REVIEW WRITTEN BY NATHAN LERNER
For 21st Century Media
What are the virtues of “And So It Goes,” which mitigate against the myriad things that are wrong with the film? Is that the sound of crickets in the background?
Oren Little (Michael Douglas) is one repugnant human being. The film posits that, despite being altogether odious, he has somehow become extremely successful selling residential real estate in Connecticut. If you are a brilliant scientist, locked away in a remote research laboratory, you can get away with having an abrasive personality and still be successful. A purveyor of residential real estate — not so much.
Oren owns a sprawling, multi-million dollar Fairfield estate. He is planning to sell it and retire to Maine. In the interim, he is living in a cramped non-descript apartment. It’s part of a lakeside quadriplex, which he happens to own. The logic of his living somewhere other than his own palatial home eluded me. This incongruity was a portent of the film’s impacted irrationality.
Oren goes out of his way to antagonize his neighbors. One of them, Kennedy (Yaya DaCosta) is in an advanced state of pregnancy. Out of sheer meanness, Oren parks his car, straddling two coveted spots close to the facility. As a consequence, Kennedy needs to make a long trek from the road every day just to reach her home. In case you had any lingering doubts about what a jerk Oren is, you see him acting abusively towards a stray dog and the children, who live in the complex.
Oren has a particularly contentious relationship with his next door neighbor, Leah (Diane Keaton). She’s a kind-hearted widow, who is pursuing a career as a lounge singer. Even though Oren subjects Leah to an unceasing litany of caustic insults, she struggles to tolerate him.
Ten years ago, Oren’s wife passed away from cancer. His adult son, Luke (Scott Shepherd), showed up stoned to her funeral, tripped, then unceremoniously went rolling down a cemetery hill. Ever since, Oren hasn’t spoken to his prodigal son. So much for forgiveness.
One day, Luke shows up unexpectedly at Oren’s apartment with his 10-year-old daughter, Sarah (Sterling Jerins) in tow. Oren had been totally unaware of his granddaughter’s existence. It turns out that Luke is a stockbroker, who has been convicted of insider trading. He is about to start a nine-month prison sentence. Luke has no one that he can entrust Leah with. His only option is to dump her with Oren. Ignoring Oren’s vehement protestations, Luke speeds away.
Abandoned like a bag of discarded trash with a child-hating misanthrope, Sarah is understandably distraught. Fortunately, Leah takes Sarah in to live with her.
So, basically you have a film about a curmudgeonly cad, who is devoid of the slightest scintilla of decency. You don’t need to be Nostradamus to accurately predict whether Oren will experience an inevitable epiphany and then develop a romantic relationship with Leah.
The formulaic screenplay is the work of Mark Andrus. He previously penned the script for “As Good As It Gets.” That film starred Jack Nicholson as another rotten guy, who undergoes a miraculous transformation. Does Andrus intend to continue to recycle the same tired tropes in future redundancies?
I remain confounded by the career of director, Rob Reiner. He debuted with the hilarious faux documentary. “This Is Spinal Tap.” Reiner followed up with a string of six highly-regarded, nicely-crafted films, “The Sure Thing,” “Stand By Me,” “The Princess Bride. “When Harry Met Sally,” “Misery” and “A Few Good Men.” It was shocking to witness the fiasco of his next film, “North.” Unfortunately, he followed up with such similarly execrable works as “The Story of Us” and “Alex & Emma.” It’s sad to witness the precipitous decline of Reiner’s career, which once offered such promise.
The promotional tagline for this film is, “There Are A Million Reasons Not To Like Oren Little.” More importantly, there are at least a million reasons not to like this reprehensible film.
Indeed, it is hard to recall anything as horrendous as this debacle with actors approaching the stature of Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton in lead roles. You may have to go back to 1987, when Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman starred in “Ishtar” to find anything comparably bad.
“And So It Goes” is appallingly atrocious.
“And So It Goes”
*PG-13 (for some sexual references and drug elements) 94 minutes
Nathan Lerner sees over 200 feature films a year. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.