And So It Goes

Posted by Joel Copling on June 18, 2014

To spend even 94 minutes with Oren Little, main character of "And So It Goes," is like something akin to a thousand painful deaths in the fires of Hell. For here is a lout of a man, played with a sort of detached derision by Michael Douglas--who, at least, seems to realize the atrocity in which he has found himself--and written with the barest of redemptive qualities by Mark Andrus. Unfortunately, Andrus and director Rob Reiner (who approaches the material with blunt, artless anti-style) don't seem to understand that a final, ten-minute stretch of redemptive sequences are absolutely not enough to make up for the wretched, soul-crushing apathy of their protagonist. Wait, did I say "protagonist?" I only did because he's positioned that way. In any other movie, he would be the antagonist.

In real life, Oren would be akin to the crochety, older man who comes through your lane at Target or Walmart or what-have-you and complains about everything from the service to how the prices of weighted items should be equal to their price per pound no matter what. He would be the irrepressibly egotistical moviegoer who intrudes on everyone else's happiness by nitpicking loudly the things happening onscreen. He would be a nuisance of the type one would want to see thrown out of a normally functioning social structure, yet here he is, the lead character in Andrus' screenplay--someone about whom we must feel sympathy because of a sob story and an unearned stab at emotional support for those who claim to need him.

Oh, Andrus gives his reasons. Oren lost his wife years ago, so why should he care about anything--from the dilemma presented to a pregnant neighbor (Yaya Alafia) who must walk an entire block up a hill, due to the parking placement of Oren's car, to even the troubles of his own son Luke (Scott Shepherd). Luke's daughter Sarah (Sterling Jerins, perhaps the only bright spot in a wasted cast yet still underutilized) is forced to stay with Oren while Luke goes to jail for a crime that, technically, no one committed (something to do with whistleblowing within the Securities and Exchange Commission) and Sarah's mother continues her life as a junkie. But because this is just too inconvenient for King of All of Everything Oren Little, his neighbor Leah (Diane Keaton, poor thing) takes her in.

Before long and with the viewers' stamp of approval, Sarah is referring to Leah as "Grandma;" eventually, with some nudges from Oren, she refers to him as "Grandpa," but the moniker seems too personal for this casually racist, unceasingly egotistical man. I forgot to mention that he's a realtor currently selling his own house for unknown reasons (When the sale occurs, he seems traumatized, but why?) and has different decorations for Vietnamese and black people but seems threatened by and afraid of them. He's abrasive to his only friend, Claire (Frances Sternhagen), who sticks by him, we feel, because the script demands that she does. Otherwise, this is a rancorous, corrosive experiment in just how awful people can be, before it turns, in the final minutes, into an attempt to redeem those who don't earn redemption, much less forgiveness.

Film Information

Michael Douglas (Oren Little), Diane Keaton (Leah), Sterling Jerins (Sarah), Scott Shepherd (Luke), Frances Sternhagen (Claire), Andy Karl (Ted Westburg), Maurice Jones (Ray), Yaya Alafia (Kennedy), Luis Augusto Figueroa (Mario Reyes), Paloma Guzman (Selena)David Aaron Baker (David Shaw), Theo Stockman (Russell), Austin Lysy (Kyle), Johnny Tran (Le Duc), Barbara Vincent (Real Estate Agent), Frankie Valli (Himself).

Directed by Rob Reiner and written by Mark Andrus.

Rated PG-13 (sexual references, drug elements).

94 minutes.

Released on July 18, 2014