And So It Goes is possibly the most trite and insipid movie in recent years with the singular mission of capturing box office dollars from AARP members.
The 65-and-older demographic is not one with which Hollywood has concerned itself as late. The few movies in recent memory aimed at this crowd consist of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Hope Springs, and a smattering of other easily forgettable yarns. And So It Goes is possibly the most trite and insipid movie in recent years with the singular mission of capturing box office dollars from AARP members. Despite two respected actors and a much-praised director, the movie contains less life than the L.L. Bean catalog from which every single character is similarly costumed.
Michael Douglas plays Oren Little, a cantankerous realtor to the multi-millionaires looking to settle down in the quiet New England territory that is his domain. Oren is unpleasant to everyone he encounters, especially the neighbors with whom he shares an apartment complex called Little Shangri-La. Oren has one goal: to sell his final piece of property—and the home he shared with his family—for an exorbitant amount so he can retire to a little cabin miles away from everyone.
His plan is interrupted when his estranged junkie son Luke (Scott Shepherd) shows up on Oren’s porch with the granddaughter he never knew he had. Sarah (Sterling Jerins) needs to be looked after while Luke, now sober, turns himself in to serve prison time for a crime he committed many years ago. Oren has no interest in taking care of Sarah, so his conveniently caring neighbor Leah (Diane Keaton) agrees to help, allowing the little girl to stay with her while Oren gets his bearings. Before long, the normally belligerent Oren is embracing his granddaughter’s presence, and even socializing with the neighbors whom he’s terrorized for so long.
And So It Goes limps along lifelessly for an unbearable 90 minutes without a single lasting conflict to test the characters. The script, from writer Mark Andrus, resolves every potential hiccup in the characters’ lives before any real challenge is faced. Oren doesn’t want to take care of Sarah, so Leah is fittingly right there to provide a nurturing home until he comes around. Leah is struggling with her lounge singing career, so Oren sets her up with a gig that pays twice what she was making before. Oren and Leah become romantically entangled (of course), which only strengthens the caring environment for Sarah. The biggest conflict—Oren’s poor reaction to his one-night-stand with Leah—is even smoothed over with little more than a half-hearted apology. And So It Goes is almost a perfect example of how not to write a screenplay: With no conflict, there is no story.
The film is directed by Rob Reiner, who continues his 25-year streak of making nearly unwatchable drivel. And So It Goes has no heart or emotion to speak of. We can’t empathize with any of the characters because they’re either unnecessarily crabby or spineless pushovers. Reiner and Andrus try to recreate the As Good As It Gets loveable-curmudgeon-falls-for-caring-matron story, but instead end up with an unlikable old guy and a pathetic woman. The story drags on with no climax—Andrus makes sure of that—or satisfying resolution. Everyone is just happy at the end.
Douglas is the only not horrible part of And So It Goes. He revels in the smarmy character of Oren and delivers his despicable dialogue with the innocence of someone who truly doesn’t understand why everyone is so easily offended. Diane Keaton, on the other hand, plays Diane Keaton for the one thousandth time, a character who gets more grating with each iteration. She makes no effort to discover anything new with her character, relying on her “I was Annie Hall” fame once again to get her through the movie.
And So It Goes is an awful film that should be avoided like a telemarketing firm, another entity that preys on the vulnerability of the elderly. | Matthew Newlin