I’ve even seen the movie and damned if I know.
What this is, in fact, is a generic title for a comedy that’s nothing but generic. There’s not a real moment or an actual human being in the entire movie. It’s manufactured out of old movie parts by people who either don’t care or were just looking to make their next movie.
Many years ago, back when Reiner was actually making some good films, a fellow critic remarked that every movie he made was a little less interesting than his previous one. With films at that point, and in this order, such as “This is Spinal Tap,” “Stand by Me,” “When Harry Met Sally …” and “Misery,” that’s a pretty gentle downward slope.
But more recently, with such rubbish as “North,” “Rumor Has It…” and “The Bucket List,” that comment hits home. What happened to the guy? From smart and witty to sentimental and sloppy, Reiner hasn’t just lost his way. He’s gone off a cliff.
Douglas may be paying Reiner back for “The American President,” a so-so political comedy that nevertheless did well for the actor. How else to explain his agreeing to play once again a grouchy old man?
Keaton gets a chance to flashback to her most iconic role as she shows up in an Annie Hall costume in one scene and, like Annie, the widow she plays here is trying to establish a career as a lounge singer despite challenged vocal cords.
Otherwise it’s unclear what motivates a film such as “And So It Goes.” It’s an exercise in foregone conclusions.
Douglas’ Oren Little is introduced as a crabby, cynical misanthropic realtor and widower, trying to sell the family home while living in a waterfront four-plex he secretly owns. His next door neighbor, Keaton’s Leah, is already practically living with him so despite their forced animosity the trajectory of that relationship is foregone conclusion number one.
When his ex-junkie estranged son dumps his granddaughter on his front lawn on his way to prison, foregone conclusion number two is that the 10-year-old (Sterling Jerins) will soften the old guy up and make him human again.
And so it goes …
With nothing to surprise you and nothing really at stake in this movie, what’s there to excite an audience?
You simply wait for that Latino home buyer whom Oren continually mistakes for his gardener to buy the family manse — foregone conclusion number three — which will cause Oren to re-evaluate his life in the four-plex with Leah and his granddaughter rather than move to Connecticut.
Frances Sternhagen has a few good snarky lines as Oren’s fellow realtor and only real friend while Reiner gives himself a butt-of-many-jokes role as Keaton’s smitten piano player with a really bad toupee.
The writer of this tripe is Mark Andrus, who did write a fine comedy once with James L. Brooks, “As Good As It Gets.” But in Hollywood, writers get assignments not inspiration.
This appears to have been an assignment where he did the best he could to manufacture a story and characters to fit the specifications of producers Reiner and Alan Greisman rather than pen his own ideas. And so that goes in Hollywood.
Is it any wonder that all the action these days is in television and even more so cable TV where writers run the show rather than producers and money men?
Opens: July 25, 2014 (Clarius Entertainment)
Production company: Clarius Entertainment in association with Foresight Unlimited and Envision Entertainment presents a Castle Rock production
Cast: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Sterling Jerins, Frances Sternhagen, Andy Karl, Frankie Valli, Rob Reiner
Director: Rob Reiner
Screenwriter: Mark Andrus
Producers: Rob Reiner, Alan Greisman, Mark Damon
Executive producers: Liz Glotzer, Jared Goldman, Ron Lynch, Andrew Scheinman, Martin Shafer, Tamara Birkemoe, Remington Chase, Grant Cramer, Shaun Redick, Raymond Mansfield, Vitaly Grigoriants, Stepan Martirosyan
Director of photography: Reed Morano
Production designer: Ethan Tobman
Music: Marc Shaiman
Costume designer: Leah Katznelson
Editor: Dorian Harris
PG-13 rating, 94 minutes