Movie Review: “And So It Goes” — A Synthetic Slice of Boomer Banality

This kind of faux-inspirational drivel has Hollywood privilege written all over it.

Boston Area Film Schedules – What is playing today, Where and When

And So It Goes, directed by Rob Reiner. At multiplexes around New England.

Michael Douglas and Dianne Keaton on "And So It Goes." Where are we?

Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton in “And So It Goes.” Where are we?

by Tim Jackson

Even the title is boring: And So It Goes. Here’s yet another film – hoping to coax aging boomers off of their couches — that is hellbent on raising the spirits and touching the heart. This particular Pavlovian exercise in predictability panders, poses, and prostitutes some fine former stars in a screenplay devoid of a single moment of authentic humanity. The problem is more than facile symbolism and annoying acting, though writer Mark Andrus, with his maudlin and often brainless screenplays (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), has worn out his welcome. Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally, Spinal Tap) is a substantial comic director who should know a good script from bad. This kind of drivel has Hollywood privilege written all over it, and the tragedy is that the culture industry has the money and clout for mass advertising and a stranglehold on megaplexes everywhere. There are so many terrific foreign films about late life relationships, and so many marvelous new young filmmakers with sophisticated stories filled with rich characterizations. But audiences won’t hear about those movies or have a chance to see them.

Michael Douglas is Oren Little, a cranky and mean spirited but enormously successful realtor who, having recently lost his wife to cancer, is trying to sell the 7.5 million dollar family home. Currently he lives in a one half of a duplex that he also owns. Boxes are stacked everywhere. I’m not sure why. His neighbor is Leah, played by Diane Keaton, a lonely widow and lounge singer who has a tendency to weep during her performances. Owen has an estranged son, Luke (played by underused but terrific Off-Broadway actor Scott Shepherd), who is a recovering drug addict. He has been sentenced to 9 months in jail for charges unrelated to drugs and of which he is not guilty. Luke’s daughter, Zoe (Sterling Jerins) needs to be taken care of. She gets dropped off with Owen, who will obviously be broken out of his crusty shell and learn to love again, much like the chrysalis in the unlikely iPhone movie little Zoe produces during her stay with grandpa.

I waited, breathlessly, for a moment of believability. Every line is delivered as a character ‘bit,’ with no sense of who anyone really is. There is a black couple living on the top floor who serve no real purpose except that the women is pregnant and so will supply us with a rambling, unnecessary birth scene. There are so many truly great child actors right now, but Jerins supplies no personality, which is shocking considering the character is a key plot point. Keaton is now on the list of actresses to avoid unless she is given some other part to play than that of an emotionally befuddled and attractive older women. The problem is compounded here because she plays a fairly untalented lounge singer who would never survive at an upscale club unless people went to laugh at the horrid toupee perching on the head of her piano player (Rob Reiner – one bright spot). Is she supposed to be mediocre? I gave up wondering. Douglas needed some direction or, maybe some lines that transcend the stilted jabber in your typical Lifetime Network movie. He has three modes – cranky, wise cracky, and redeemed.

And where are these people living, anyway? Rarely have I seen a movie where I had to study the extras walking in the streets to get a sense of what kind of community this is. There is no sense of location at all. More amazing — I lost all sense of what was happening when. Time is relative. When did he last see his son? How far away is the prison? Does the child go to school? Does the child eat anything besides sandwiches? There is no sense of night moving into day, or of days passing. The time of year is non-existent. I waited for the credits. Apparently, this is set in Connecticut.

The soundtrack is peppered with classics designed to pleasurably stimulate aging yuppie memory banks. It doesn’t always pay off. Keaton, purring Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About,” set my teeth on edge. I hoped until the bitter end for something evocative of the real world. But that isn’t the way And So It Goes goes.

Tim Jackson is an assistant professor at the New England Institute of Art in the Digital Film and Video Department. His music career in Boston began in the 1970s and includes some 20 groups, many recordings, national and international tours, and contributions to film soundtracks. He studied theater and English as an undergraduate and has also has worked helter skelter as an actor and member of SAG and AFTRA since the 1980s. He has directed a trio of documentaries: Chaos and Order: Making American Theater about the American Repertory Theater, and Radical Jesters, which profiles the practices of 11 interventionist artists and agit-prop performance groups. His third documentary, When Things Go Wrong, about the Boston singer/songwriter Robin Lane, with whom he has worked for 30 years, has just been completed. He is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics. You can read more of his work on his blog.


  1. Gerald Peary on July 28, 2014 at 10:27 am

    A funny review. I think I’ll skip this one. Has anyone seen Annie Hall lately? It’s not that good, and Diane Keaton’s cutesy, space-head Annie is totally overacted. So so much better is Manhattan. Including a marvelous Keaton.

  2. Matt Hanson on July 28, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Agreed. I was a Woody Allen devotee for years but started to look awry at him lately and am starting to feel that, in a lot of places, there’s less there than meets the eye.

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