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A feeble reunion.

Somewhere, Billy Joel is cringing. While the title of Rob Reiner's "And So It Goes" seems intended as a take-it-on-the-chin affirmation of life's inevitable detours and potholes, the movie itself feels like a surrender--to the kind of geriatric burlesque that increasingly seems to be the only game in town for A-list stars of Social Security age. Rivaling headliner Michael Douglas' recent altacocker ensembler "Last Vegas" in its quantity of arthritic slapstick and tearjerking platitudes, this independently financed reunion project for the actor and his "American President" director is being positioned by upstart distrib Clarius as an alternative to the summer's comicbook blockbusters. But "And So It Goes" will need a Viagara-sized box office miracle to come anywhere near the niche success of the recent "Parental Guidance" ($77 million) and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" ($46 million), to say nothing of Reiner's own "The Bucket List" ($93 million).

Screenwriter Mark Andrus, who earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing James L. Brooks' "As Good as It Gets," has mined more than a bit of Jack Nicholson's cantankerous curmudgeon from that film (minus the OCD) for Douglas' Oren Little, a formerly high-flying Connecticut real-estate agent who's turned sour and embraced the bottle in the decade since losing his wife to cancer. When we first meet him, Oren is trying to unload his own palatial Fairfield estate before retiring to Vermont--a turn of events that would please no one more than the fellow tenants of the lakeside fourplex where Oren has taken up residence while waiting for the right buyer to come along.

They include widowed lounge singer Leah (Diane Keaton), who chides Oren for his selfishness and insensitivity (to his fellow man, small children and even stray dogs), but whose ultimate destiny with the character is, like most things about "And So It Goes," hopelessly obvious from the start.

Andrus and Reiner (who directs in canned, sitcom rhythms) draw on Douglas' own troubled relationship with son Cameron to give Oren an estranged adult son (Scott Shepherd), who turns up out of the blue on the eve of a nine-month prison sentence (on trumped-up SEC charges) and asks Oren to take care of 10-year-old Sarah (Sterling Jerins), the granddaughter he didn't know he had. From there, you can just about set your watch by the amount of time it will take for Oren's shriveled-up heart to enlarge by the requisite two sizes.

Douglas, who did some of the best work of his career playing bottomed-out middle-aged losers in "Wonder Boys" and the tragically underseen "Solitary Man," here serves mainly as a wind-up comic-insult machine. Keaton fares somewhat better in an equally one-dimensional role, playing a knock-off of her high-strung, lovelorn neurotic from Nancy Meyers' "Something's Gotta Give."

Watching "And So It Goes," it's hard not to imagine what a richer, more sophisticated, and finally more human affair the late Paul Mazursky--or even the Reiner of earlier days--could have made from this same basic alchemy. But Mazursky wasn't much in demand of late and neither, it seems, are grownup relationship movies where real feeling ever risks rupturing the anodyne surface. Whenever this film feels like it might be on the verge of such a turn, it reliably opts for the cheap punch line or easy pathos. For all of its 93 minutes, you never feel anything significant is at stake for anyone--save for a paycheck.

And So It Goes

Director: Rob Reiner

Starring: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton

CREDITS: A Clarius Entertainment release presented in association with Foresight Unlimited and Envision Entertainment of a Castle Rock/ Rob Reiner/Alan Creisman production. PRODUCED BY Reiner, Creisman, Mark Damon. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS, Liz Clotzer, Jared Goldman, Ron Lynch, Andrew Schelnman, Martin Shafer, Tamara Birkemoe, Grant Cramer, Shaun Redick, Raymond Mansfield, Vitaly Grigoriants, Remington Chase, Stepan Martirosyan. DIRECTED BY Rob Reiner. SCREENPLAY. Mark Andrus, CAMERA (DELUXE COLOR, WIDESCREEN), Reed Morano; EDITOR, Dorian Harris: MUSIC, Marc Shaiman; MUSIC SUPERVISOR, Julia Michels; PRODUCTION DESIGNER, Ethan Tobman; COSTUME DESIGNER. Leah Katznelson; SOUND (DOLBY DIGITAL), Jack Hutson; SUPERVISING SOUND EDITORS. Lon Bender, Glynna Grimala; VISUAL EFFECTS. E3 VFX, Sol VFX; STUNT COORDINATOR, Christopher Barnes; ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, Michael Pitt; CASTING, Laura Rosenthal. REVIEWED AT Jerusalem Film Festival (Galas), July 12,2013. MPAA RATING: PG-13. RUNNING TIME: 93 MIN.

CAST: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Sterling Jerins, Frances Sternhagen, Andy Karl, Scott Shepherd, Frankie Valli, Annie Parisse, Yaya Alafia, Rob Reiner

SCOTT FOUNDAS

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Title Annotation:And So It Goes
Author:Foundas, Scott
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Movie review
Date:Jul 22, 2014
Words:727
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