The combination of Academy Award winners Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton with Oscar-nominated director Rob Reiner should add up to something more magical than the bland offering "And So It Goes."
What keeps this mature romantic comedy from being a winner is a script by Mark Andrus that starts out vapid and barely rises to mediocre.
Douglas and Keaton give it their best shot as two bickering New England neighbors. Their best isn't enough.
Oren Little (Douglas) is a highly successful real estate agent looking to close one final big deal before he moves to his dream retirement cabin. The plans get sidetracked when Little's estranged son drops off his 9-year-old granddaughter (Sterling Jerins). Someone needs to watch the girl while Daddy heads off to prison, and Grandpa is the default.
The helpless Little gets assistance from his neighbor, Leah (Keaton), a lounge singer with a lot of free time on her hands.
Unlike the quick and witty work Andrus did with the script for "As Good As It Gets," he loads this production with cliches.
Little is only one bad joke away from being a total racist. And Leah's leap to fame under Little's guidance seems as plausible as this movie winning an Oscar.
It's embarrassing to watch Douglas play a character who is so one-dimensional that he believes all Hispanics are gardeners. A lesser actor than Douglas would have turned the role into a cartoon character — and not an entertaining one. But Douglas does his best. In one scene, his character gives a speech about compassion using his dead wife as an example. It's moving, but it's not enough to lift up the rest of the movie.
Keaton's role is forgettable. She is neither all that fascinating as a lounge singer, nor a surrogate grandmother. She's like that friend who shows up at a party, stays the evening and then everyone asks her the next day why she didn't come to the event. It's not enough just to be present; you have to at least try to be memorable.
Andrus has loaded the movie with lame romcom scenes: the awkward next morning after sex, slapstick humor during a big event (in this case, a birth), annoying children and a never-ending sludge of risque humor. This is the kind of movie Katherine Heigl would make if she were 25 years older.
Between the cookie-cutter characters and the recycled comedy, it all adds up to a predictable and uninspired romantic comedy that wastes its greatest commodities — the first-rate actors and director.
And, so it goes.
"And So It Goes," rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug references. Stars Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, John Scott Shepherd. Directed by Rob Reiner. Running time: 94 minutes. Grade: C