Pandering is how it goes with Douglas and Keaton this time around - The Buffalo News

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Pandering is how it goes with Douglas and Keaton this time around

Shameless pandering has no “demo.” You can, if you choose, snobbishly decry the blatantly calculated aim at a youth “demographic” in movies like “Transformers” and “22 Jump Street.” But the exact same thing in reverse is going on in “And So It Goes” and its shamelessness quotient is just as high, if not higher.

This is a movie unlikely to draw anyone under 25 unless they’re dragged into the theater by parents or grandparents (or, conversely, they’re the ones doing the dragging out of an attempt to have a multigenerational “family night” at the megaplex). My guess is that the big shows here will be retiree matinees.

If you think I’m suddenly pleased by finding myself solidly in a demographic group cynically targeted by America’s Entertainment Industrial Complex, you’ve got another thing coming. I like good movies, period. As far as I’m concerned, they can keep their perverted marketing demographic fetishes to themselves, thank you.

I am, admittedly, more than kindly disposed toward Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton – especially after seeing this movie where Douglas is happy to be photographed in a laughably unflattering doofus driving cap and, in a couple of close-ups driving his car, with the full 70-year-old wattling of his neck exposed naked to the world. You’ve got to love actors whose vanity bores them just as much as it does the rest of us.

I even remain a fan of Keaton despite the spectacularly awkward spectacle she has made of herself on recent award shows and the rather startling amount of narcissism revealed whenever she sits down to write a book.

Director Rob Reiner is another matter entirely. He had a truly great run for a while. Just look at the movies he gave us, everything from “Misery” and “Stand By Me” to “When Harry Met Sally” and “The Princess Bride.” The truth is that run ended decisively with “The Story of Us” in 1999, no matter how many people took to heart his last geezer fantasy “The Bucket List” (whose title has, admittedly, made it into the language, all props to writer Justin Zackham).

What goes into Reiner’s movies in our new century depends, it seems, entirely on his writers. His writer here is Mark Andrus, a screenwriter of no consequence on his own (unless he’s collaborating with the lunatic likes of W.D. Richter or the ultra-professional likes of James L. Brooks, he seems to have nothing interesting to say).

If you’re older than 60, you’re practically bludgeoned to respond to this movie in knee-jerk ways – an “aww that poor guy” when we hear evidence of Douglas’ phoney baloney crustiness (he’s the kind of guy who fires paint balls at the flanks of dogs about to leave droppings on his lawn) and Keaton’s dissolving into tears every time she gets a chance.

The idea of Keaton playing a woman who just can’t keep her tears bottled up, I must confess, doesn’t appeal to me at all but then Reiner lets her do a bit of nightclub singing here so you can understand why she’d leap at an opportunity to perform in a role Sissy Spacek already turned down (so says the website IMDb).

How do you get to the grandparent generation in the theater seats celebrating retirement and/or empty nests? Give them a sweet preteen kid in desperate need of the kind of love old folks quite naturally have to give.

And this is where you can understand why Douglas might have said yes to this subpar exploitation script. His character has a son going off to prison, leaving his young daughter behind for nine months. Douglas, we all know, is a man whose son Cameron is scheduled to be in prison on drug charges until 2018. It’s not much of a script, but it gave an actor who’s sometimes underrated, despite all the Oscars and Emmys, a role he can easily bring his life into.

All of its target audiences just sit there as the movie shamelessly tries to push every emotional and comic button it can find in our age group. The only result, for me, was to like the performers immensely (and as well the great actress Frances Sternhagen, whose voice is beginning to quaver as much as Katharine Hepburn’s did at the end) and to wish that Reiner remembered that, for pity’s sake, he’s the guy who once gave us “This is Spinal Tap” and “The American President.”

At the very least, couldn’t he have given the script to Aaron Sorkin for a quick rewrite or polish? You know, just for the sake of friendship?

And so it goes

2.5 stars

Starring: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Annie Parisse, Frances Sternhagen, Frankie Valli, Rob Reiner

Director: Rob Reiner

Running time: 94 minutes

Rating: PG-13 for sexual and drug references

The Lowdown: Love comes to the over-60 set as a man and woman bond over a young child left parentless when her father is sent to prison.


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