Mark Reviews Movies

And So It Goes


1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Rob Reiner

Cast: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Sterling Jerins, Annie Parisse, Andy Karl, Frances Sternhagen, Scott Shepherd, Yaya Alafia, Maurice Jones, Rob Reiner

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some sexual references and drug elements)

Running Time: 1:34

Release Date: 7/25/14

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Review by Mark Dujsik | July 24, 2014

Michael Douglas' character in And So It Goes is a detestable sort. Oren Little is a narcissist, a racist, and, generally, a misanthrope. Perhaps the least appealing element of the character is the passive-aggressive way he communicates and displays his numerous character defects.

At the apartment complex where he lives, he parks his car in such a way that no one else can park next to him. When Oren's neighbor asks him to be considerate of the fact that his wife is pregnant and must walk a good distance if Oren parks that way, Oren simply says to take it up with the manager. What Oren fails to tell anyone is that he owns the complex. He takes great relish in pointing out that fact—but only after all of his neighbors explain that each of them has taken up their problems with him to the manager.

It's one thing to be a jerk, but it's an entirely different—and far more despicable—type of person who takes joy out of being one. Oren is that type of person.

When Oren's son Luke (Scott Shepherd) begs his father to take care of his daughter, the old man seems to take wicked pleasure in having the opportunity to throw Luke's history of drug addiction back at him. He won't watch his granddaughter for six months, either, because he's "too busy."

What he's busy with is unclear and unimportant, given that it's a lame excuse, anyway. We do know that he still works as a realtor and that his pet project is trying to sell his house for upwards of $8 million. He's sticking to the exact number he has in mind; it's what it'll take for him to have his dream retirement. When someone suggests a lower figure, Oren compares the offer to rape. No, seriously, that's the comparison he makes.

Wait, though, there's more. Oren sets up photos throughout the house that reflect the race or ethnicity of the people looking at it. When a Vietnamese family catches on to the pandering ruse by pointing out that the people in the photographs are Chinese, he argues—in the way casual racists do—that there's really no difference to him. When a Latino couple arrives to view the house, Oren spends the entire time questioning whether they really understand how much it costs.

At this point, it's imperative to repeat the argument that there is nothing inherently wrong about portraying unlikeable characters. What's strange about Mark Andrus' screenplay is that it lets Oren off easy. Not one character in the movie really confronts him. Yes, some put up a bit of a fight every so often. They all seem convinced that there is nothing they can do to change him, so why should they bother? Director Rob Reiner (who also has a small role as a pianist with a bad toupée) seems to feel the same way about the character, letting everything about him go unchallenged.

There's also the usual excuse-making. Oren is a widower. His wife died of cancer, which, apparently, has turned him into the despicable person we see in the movie. We know better: The level of contempt Oren shows toward humanity is something that takes a lifetime to build. Instead, Andrus wants to believe that something snapped in this character upon his wife's death. Oren makes that argument one drunken evening to his next-door neighbor Leah (Diane Keaton). She's a widowed lounge singer who inexplicably finds something in this poor excuse for a man that makes her consider pursuing a romantic relationship with him. He treats her like dirt, walking all over her, and she just goes along with it.

Leah unofficially takes Oren's granddaughter Sarah (Sterling Jerins) into her care after Luke drops off the girl at the apartment complex on his way to prison. With this development, of course, comes the expected turn: Oren really isn't that bad of a guy. He neglects his granddaughter, tries to pass her off to the drug-addicted mother she never really knew (on the girl's birthday, no less), and is ready to abandon her for sunny skies and pleasant temperatures as soon as he sells the house. It's fine, though, because he eventually learns that Sarah likes her bologna sandwich with butter instead of mayonnaise.

That's apparently enough for everyone—from the characters to Reiner to Andrus. And So It Goes doesn't just overlook the worst of its main character. By the end, we have a sense that it is bowing before him for just being mildly decent. What a condescending movie this is.

Copyright © 2014 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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