Has it really been 37 years since Diane Keaton and Woody Allen kept a lobster at bay in Annie Hall as they clung fiercely to their separate neuroses. Yes it has. Well I say la-ti-dah to that. And So It Goes, is more like Gordon Gecko meets Annie Hall, only without Woody Allen.
I’ll still buy a movie ticket to see Michael Douglas play imperious self-centered jerks, or a cantankerous curmudgeon. They can change the script, or the title, but if Rob Reiner is at the helm, and he’s the one asking Mr. Douglas to hit his marks, or even if he has to call a cut to explain to Ms Keaton that a specific scene calls for a fluster rather than a flutter, or a bit of nervous laughter – I’m there to see it.
And So It Goes is the brand new rom/com for seniors directed by Rob Formerly known as Meathead Reiner. Michael Douglas plays Oren Little, a widower as well as a near to retirement real estate agent living and working on Connecticut’s Long Island Sound coastline. The film opens with a marvelous long tracking shot which begins over water and is barely high enough to clear some of the taller masts on the anchored sail boats before heading inland to track a car. A nice touch and quite amazing even if I say so.
Little absolutely believes the home he’s showing to a prospective buyer is worth every penny of the 8.6 million dollar price tag he’s placed on this house. Even if no one in his office thinks the home is worth any more than 5.8 million. Little would love to sell the house, but he’s not about to allow for any kind of negotiations. Not for the Vietnamese couple who are the first prospective buyers we meet. And not for the black couple who follow, and not for the Hispanic couple after that.
Little lives in a quadruplex – a single building with two floors each with side by side apartments. His neighbor on the ground floor is Leah, played by Diane Keaton. She sings at a local bistro. She’s also a bit frayed around the edges, and is still a bit down having lost her husband Eugene. She sings passably but between the evergreens she sings, her patter needs some work. She can’t quite finish a torchy ballad without breaking down in tears. Rob Reiner has a small role as Artie, Leah’s piano accompanist. That’s him beneath the rug in the image below.
So Douglas’s Oren, and Keaton’s Leah are next door neighbors. The story gets a bit more complex when Oren’s son, who is about to enter prison, asks his Dad to take care of his 9-year-old (soon to be 10) daughter.
If you do the math, we began with one, and next door, another one. Now with little Sarah on the premises, you won’t need a slide rule to see that she’s the missing ingredient. So one plus one plus a half equals three.
Reiner’s task is to get us to care about these folks. Douglas shines in his crabbiness, and it takes a smart-mouth Claire (played Frances Sternhagen who gets most of the best and funniest lines) as his right hand at the real estate office, to verbally beat some sense in to him now and then.
But the thing of it is, and you can’t go into this film and not see it coming, is that beneath that crusty exterior, Oren Little, has plenty of soft spots and heart. Douglas is pretty terrific in this role. Keaton is a bit more reined in than you might think, but she also shines. She can cry at the drop of a sharp or a flat, and yet, I can’t say that anyone in the theater had to get out their own hankies. Simply, there were more than enough, let me change that to plenty, laugh-out-loud moments to keep you engaged and upbeat.
This is a fun film, and a funny film. The sweet is not so sugary, and the bitter is not so sour, that you go from one kind of bad taste to another. What I’m saying is that it all works rather well. If I had to voice a minor complaint, I’d say that the film lacks any hard edges. Reiner’s premise is to soft-pedal as much as he can. Meaning he’s not about to take any chances. This film may be a romance between a couple of seniors, but I think the film will appeal to most ages.
Besides Sternhagen, you can watch for Annie Parisse, as one of the tenants in the quadruplex called Little Shangri-La, and singer Frankie Valli, as a bistro owner.
I’m going to rate this film at three-point seven five and recommend it. This film may not be good enough to be mentioned in the breath as The American President (1995), or even the Governor of Connecticut, but, and I’m borrowing a line from the film – it was less than I had hoped for, but better than I expected. Check out the trailer: