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And So It Goes (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 94 minutes.

OK for children.

While Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton give good performances in this romantic comedy about people who have passed the prime of life, the person who steals the show is Sterling Jerins, who plays Sarah, the nine-year old granddaughter of Oren Little (Douglas). She gives a performance that belies her tender years.

Oren is an irascible live-in landlord of a four-plex. He alienates everyone, including kindly Leah (Keaton), who lives next door to him.

Directed by Rob Reiner, with a  script is by Mark Andrus, who wrote the excruciatingly funny As Good As It Gets (1997), itís not as funny as Reinerís classic, When Harry Met Sally (1989), or as Andrusís classic, but itís a family rated film that is entertaining enough.

Keaton plays a singer. While her voice is fine for the role sheís playing, a relatively unsuccessful cabaret singer, itís not something that will make anyone want to run out to buy an album. Itís actually perfect for this role because you hear voices like this singing in lots of small bars and clubs around the country.

The location is in a rundown area which is appropriate for these middle class people. The location was Black Rock, Connecticut on Long Island Sound, an area that is rundown and been on the economic decline for 90 years.

The most humorous parts, and the most realistic, are the romantic attempts between Douglas and Keaton. Both have lost lifelong spouses and are reluctant and uncomfortable in a dating situation that necessarily involves the issue of sex. This is not Cary Grant romancing Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember (1957) or Burt Lancaster after Kerr in From Here to Eternity (1953).

The way Reiner directs it, though, is genuine and humorous. Keaton was uncomfortable with the bed scene and asked Reiner if she could do the sex scene with her clothes on. So the line, ďIím leaving my bra onĒ was added to the scene and only the aftermath is shown.

Orenís unfamiliarity with how to act in a romantic relationship brings another character into the film, Claire (Frances Sternhagen), a real estate broker with Oren, to whom he turns for advice. What he gets, though, is crusty language not expected from an elderly lady.

Finally, there are two noteworthy cameos. Director Reiner plays Leahís piano player (with a dyed beard so he isnít instantly recognizable) and legendary Frankie Valli (the frontman for The Four Seasons) plays a club owner for whom Leah auditions near the end of the film. Keaton didnít know that the man for whom she was auditioning was Valli until Reiner asked her if she were nervous having to audition in front of Frankie Valli. She asked, ďFrankie Valli? Whereís Frankie Valli?Ē

While itís a reasonably entertaining movie, itís one that will be enjoyed more by women than men, who might start to fidget after a while.