And So It Goes
There are a million reasons not to like realtor Oren Little (Michael Douglas), and that’s just the way he likes it. Willfully obnoxious to anyone who might cross his path, he wants nothing more than to sell one last house and retire in peace and quiet. His wife Sarah Beth passed away years ago, so while awaiting his big real estate break, he’s biding his time in the waterfront four-plex building he owns – “Little Shangri-La” – surrounded by neighbors who have formed a close-knit community that he mostly avoids when he’s not barking about how noisy their kids are or taking heat for hogging the whole driveway with his classic Mercedes Benz convertible. Even kindly Leah (Diane Keaton), who persists in inviting Oren to participate in mojito happy hour despite his cranky demeanor, gets rebuffed. His only real friend, fellow realtor Claire (Frances Sternhagen), gets a pass because of their decades-long history and the fact that she can dish out snark and sarcasm as well as he can even when he’s at his eye-rolling worst.
Oren’s life gets turned upside-down when his estranged son Luke (Scott Shepherd) appears out of the blue, asking him to temporarily care for the nine-year-old granddaughter (Sterling Jerins) Oren never knew existed. With Sarah (named after Oren’s late wife) literally being left on his doorstep, Oren grudgingly agrees to take her in but quickly pawns her off on Leah, who is too moved by Sarah’s sadness at being apart from her father to balk – at first – at Oren’s absurd expectation that she’ll just handle everything so he can resume his life uninterrupted. But Leah’s got her own path to figure out, trying to find her second act as a lounge singer — which might bring her more success if she could just get through a set without telling stories of her late husband and fleeing the stage in tears leaving her band, led by doting pianist Artie (Rob Reiner), to fend for themselves.
Over time, Sarah’s need for love and affection bring Oren and Leah closer and allow them to see different sides of one another. Initially solely consumed with the prospect of selling his family home to fund his retirement, Oren soon discovers Leah is more than an extra set of hands to help with Sarah. And Leah learns that Oren’s hardened exterior might be just that, with a humanity inside worth trying to break through to. Together, Oren and Leah tackle the funny, joyous, awkward and sometimes intense moments that have become their new reality. And little by little, Oren begins to open his heart – to his family, to Leah, and to life itself – in this uplifting comedy from acclaimed director Rob Reiner.
“And So It Goes” could be the title of where the movie stands as far as receiving our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal. This movie is funny and engaging at times, but falls short in the content arena, and “so it goes” that it doesn’t receive our Seal. Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton are genuinely funny in the film. Douglas plays Oren Little, a successful realtor who does things like shooting a paintball at a dog about to evacuate himself on the lawn, and Little also refuses to move a few feet when parking his car so his neighbor at the apartment building he is staying in can get closer to the building for his pregnant wife. He also doesn’t want to take in the granddaughter he has never met when he learns his son has to spend some time in prison. He is not the epitome of compassion but in one angry moment he tells another character in the movie that he bathed and fed his sick wife who was dying from cancer, and even prayed for her, so he did have compassion. Yet despite his grumpy ways the very likable Leah (Diane Keaton) takes an interest in him, and he encourages her in her singing at a local club. It becomes apparent that they have enough differences and enough similarities so as to attract each other, and that a relationship is probably inevitable.
The movie contains some good lines, including a woman talking about her husband passing away, the husband she loved, and his death leaving her behind. “Sometimes life outlives love,” she says. It also shows that change is possible as a father and son find healing in their formerly torn relationship. However, sadly, it is the content that prevents the movie from receiving our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal. Despite the fact a woman says she doesn’t practice casual sex, she does in one scene after just getting to know a man a bit. Also, there are several uses of strong language. We wish this funny and engaging film had remained more family friendly.