Director Rob Reiner (“The Princess Bride” and “The Bucket List”) helms the new film “And So It Goes,” with stars Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. Despite being one of Reiner’s weaker efforts, the film is surprisingly well done.
“And So It Goes” features Douglas as Oren Little, a grumpy old realtor who isn’t exactly a “people person.” Diane Keaton plays Leah, a singer and Oren’s neighbor, who has little love for Oren. When Oren is forced to take care of his granddaughter, he and Leah begin to form a strong, if not comfortable bond.
The trailers didn’t do this film justice. They made it seem like the movie was going to be a formulaic comedy about a jerk who learns to be a nice guy and appreciate life. Thankfully, “And So It Goes” wasn’t what the trailers depicted.
Douglas really grounds the film. He works perfectly as a cynical and grumpy old man who clearly needs to retire. He also works as a keen, observant and brutally honest human being who’s had a rough personal life. Douglas’ character is smart and practical. He’s not the type to mince words – often to the benefit of his neighbors – and you love him for it. Oren’s a great character.
Leah, on the other hand, is dull. While she’s not a terrible character, there simply isn’t much to her except that she’s nice and doesn’t care for Little’s behavior. She’s also a singer – and she’s apparently a good one, even though her voice could easily be overpowered by a piano. It was difficult to believe she would form any sort of bond with Douglas’ character.
Despite Leah, the story felt very natural. It allowed the characters to breathe and be themselves. Of course, some moments felt forced – like when Leah and Oren have sex. Thankfully the audience is spared that sight, as we only see the aftermath, but it felt really out of place and character – especially when Leah tells Oren that she doesn’t do casual sex. That sequence was completely unnecessary.
One truly admirable aspect of the story is that Oren doesn’t go through any major changes – at least, compared to other movies. It seems like in today’s films, the protagonist is required to undergo a world-altering transformation. The character’s arc cannot be small or affect just the character. The arc, like everything else, has to be huge and affect the world in one way or another. So it’s nice to see the changes that Oren undergoes don’t really change who he is or touch the lives of millions. It’s a change that no one but those closest to him would notice or care about. That’s wonderful to see.
Overall, the film is not a masterpiece. It’s likely going to fade into obscurity soon after it leaves theaters – but that’s no surprise. The real surprise is that for something that seemed so conventional, it managed to exceed expectations. For what it is, “And So It Goes” deserves some love and appreciation.