By LYNN BARKER
Front Row Features
Who knew? Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas make a cute couple. The Oscar winners’ first film together, Rob Reiner’s “And So It Goes,” sadly, is sweet but rambling as they play a couple struggling to move past lives as widow and widower, and put a romantic spark into their senior years.
Douglas plays Oren Little, a 60-something, bitter curmudgeon who was once a very successful Realtor. Now he has to sell his posh family home and lives in a unit in the fourplex he owns. Also in the complex is Leah (Diane Keaton), a raw widow who wants to build a career as a lounge singer. Of course the two just rub each other the wrong way.
The duo never exchanges civil dialogue except when forced to. Oren’s estranged, ex-junkie son, on the way to serve a jail term for supposedly manipulating some stocks, leaves his tween daughter on dad’s doorstep. Freaked out and clueless, Oren recruits Leah to help care for the girl until he can find a temporary home for her.
Of course, in this sweet, predictable rom-com, the outcome is obvious. Oren will mellow out and warm up to his granddaughter. He and Leah will hook up. Her career will blossom and, when the son gets out of jail, they’ll all form a cozy family unit.
If it weren’t for the seasoned actors in the lead and supporting roles (Frances Sternhagen is hilarious as Oren’s long-time real estate partner), the film would be a bore, but there are some very human and genuinely funny moments peppered throughout. Frankie Valli, yes the original Jersey Boy, makes a cameo as a club owner Oren convinces to hire Leah and director-actor Rob Reiner is loser sweet as Leah’s piano accompanist suitor with the world’s worse toupee.
Reiner has directed kids successfully before (in the classic “Stand By Me” most notably), and the kids in “And So It Goes” are not exceptions. Sterling Jerins (of “World War Z”) who plays the granddaughter is very believable without being syrupy.
Keaton and Douglas have very believable senior chemistry as 60-somethings who fall in love. There is enough crossover humor to delight a younger crowd but the lack of a real story is a problem. No pressure on the plot makes for a rambling, day-in-the-life type of film that might not hold interest for very long. Also—I gotta say it—I’ve never thought Diane Keaton could sing. She’s done the lounge singer bit from time to time throughout her career, and her efforts here, although earnest, come off in some of her songs, as unintentionally comic.
Nonetheless, the film is honest and sweet and might connect with the audiences that enjoyed “The Bucket List.”