For the most part, I take great pleasure in visiting my grandparents. Listening to stories of bygone days, daily struggles made irrelevant by new technologies, and cyclical hardships that seem to echo through the decades and show up in different forms in the present. Every story is like a personalized history lesson that ends up being either insightful, hilarious, or inspiring. Then there are those times where their nostalgia turns dark and verges on the cantankerous. Usually involving the inevitable cost inflation of everything. Those conversations with them are the worst because they lead absolutely nowhere and aren’t even the least bit relatable. And So It Goes feels like a long, meandering conversation with my grandparents, and not the good kind.
Oren (Michael Douglas) is your typical, wealthy curmudgeon of an older man. The only things he cares about is his deceased wife and selling his home for $10 million. Everything else is pretty much a game to him. In his small apartment complex, he is a self-serving pariah and proud of it. His optimistic, but depressed neighbor Leah (Diane Keaton) is on the verge of losing her job because all of her lounge singing songs end in hysterical bawling. In a Trading Places type wager, Oren bets some arbitrary amount of money that he can find Leah a better job with a much better pay. Yes, the only purpose this serves is to set up their Meet Cute.
If Oren’s life weren’t uncomplicated enough, his estranged, black sheep son comes by to drop off his daughter while he serves a minor prison sentence that is later cut short thanks to Oren’s money and a lawyer. In the meantime, it gives Oren, Leah, and Oren’s granddaughter an opportunity to bond in a very strange and highly unlikely series of events. It’s like a much less charming/endearing (and completely pointless) version of Up, where I guess Diane Keaton’s character would have to be either the giant bird or the floating house.
Rob Reiner, who hasn’t had much luck recently, is aiming for an older audience with this film. That is very much to the film’s detriment. Fortunately, Reiner can’t be (completely) blamed for the film’s overall failure, because while he did direct and act in it, he didn’t write it. Every issue in the film has to do with the underwhelming, narrowly marketed story. Aside from being mostly unrelatable to anyone under 40, And So It Goes also lacks any form of action or consequence. We do get brief glimpses at humor and a smidge of romance, but nothing is at risk. The only stakes involve an asinine bet for money that apparently neither side is really in need of. Even if they would have fleshed out the post-50 career change a little more, I would have enjoyed the parallel to the current state of the job market instead of relying on the brief mentions of Facebook and Twitter to engage a younger audience.
And So It Goes may deliver solid performances, but they are just fodder with a story that fails even on the most basic of rom-com levels. The laughs are sparse and any notion of dramatic tension or suspense is nonexistent. If you have a heart condition, are easily excitable, or think that older people are under-represented in movie sex scenes, then this film is for you. For everyone else, this is one visit you can avoid.
RATING: ★★(2/10 stars)
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