By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Joni Mitchell’s folksy “Both Sides Now” makes for a great bookend song for Rob Reiner’s film, And So It Goes, a romantic comedy about self-discovery and strengthening family bonds. In the themes typically found in her music, the feeling of romantic longing and disillusionment that the main two characters carry in their selves is definitely noticeable. But for people wondering if there’s any relationship to Billy Joel’s own tune, most likely not.
This movie is made for an older generation to enjoy a well made character drama moreso than for younger crowds on the hunt for slapstick. But for anyone who likes to see the talented Michael Douglas play an ol’ codger amped up on many nasty levels, this film is recommended. Fans familiar with him playing Jack T. Colton, an adventurer in Romancing the Stone or Grady Tripp in Wonder Boys will find a very different character in this film. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the curious will be interested in seeing how he will fare as Hank Pym in Ant-Man. The newswire Reuters quoted him to say that he wants to have some fun in the role of Pym. He certainly had fun in And So It Goes by playing Oren Little, a mean spirited and grumpy real estate agent.
The film opens with Little (Douglas) visiting his wife’s grave and showing audiences how much he misses her. This vulnerability is not touched on anymore because Little does not want to reveal to his family or friends all that he had faced in the past. He’s even trying to sell off the family estate as a way to sever his ties, but that does not come easy especially when his estranged son, Luke (Scott Shepherd), comes by for a visit. Oren mostly distanced himself from the boy when he became a drug-addict and the film implies they hardly stayed in contact. Luke eventually grew up to accept responsibility to atone for his life. That also includes going to jail for a crime he was not really involved with, and that action makes for some interesting counter-points to how Oren behaves during the film.
When Luke drops little Sarah (Sterling Jerins) off at grandpa’s home, Oren really has no idea in what to do with her.
No tenant at the water-side apartment he manages want to be sympathetic to his plight. But when Leah (Diane Keaton) lives next to him, she has to deal with him more often than not. With some reluctance, she helps him out and everyone in this surrogate family gets to bond. This film is not without some predictability since it has to develop into a feel-good movie in the end. Through little moments of seeing Oren and Sarah bond, this misanthrope shows that he does have a heart inside that Douglas nicely and slowly brings out in his performance.
Even Leah sees it and her heart wants to melt for him. But love for these two sexagenarians does not come easy. Romance never is, and the realism that writer Mark Andrus imbues in the screenplay is a delight. Director Rob Reiner balances the emerging romance with some quality light humour. This filmmaker is best known for many hilarious films like When Harry Met Sally and This is Spinal Tap. With And So It Goes, the whimsical nature of this film will most likely work to bring in the 50-something target audience that this film is aiming to draw in. Chances of it becoming a sleeper hit is more than likely.
3½ Stars out of 5