Monday, August 4, 2014

"And So It Goes" Douglas & Keaton shine in comedy

Directed by: Rob Reiner
Cast: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Frances Sternhagen, Frankie Valli, Sterling Jerins, Annie Parisse, Rob Reiner

Review by James Colt Harrison  

Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton are two veteran pros in the acting profession. Their years of experience, Oscar® wins, and other accolades over the decades has taught them to be relaxed and natural before the camera. Being relaxed before the color cameras has made them dominate the screen. It is dangerous to appear in a scene with either of them because they will steal the scene right out from under any other actor. They accomplish this feat in their new Castle Rock comedy And So It Goes ---with one exception. And her name is Frances Sternhagen.

Douglas plays an unlikable curmudgeonly real-estate broker who will do anything to get a sale and anything else he might want. He’s mean, he’s ornery, he’s thoughtless. At the same time, you can’t help but like him because he is funny. Only one person has been able to put up with him and put him in his place. That is his office mate Claire, played by the formidable Frances Sternhagen. They have been working together in the same office for 35 years. Ms. Sternhagen dominates their scenes and adds warmth and humor to his crusty personality.

When Oren (Douglas) lists his own home for sale, he moves next door to failed lounge singer Leah (Diane Keaton). She’s trying to supoort herself as a singer and works at a sleazy bar where Rob Reiner plays her toupee’d pianist. Reiner is always funny, and the rat’s nest on his head is the worst toupee ever seen by man. Keaton shows promise as a singer but has never gotten the breaks. She may be slightly long in the tooth for a beginning singer.

Oren sees great potential in Leah’s singing ability and decides to become her agent and get her better singing gigs. They fight and clash just about everything and bring laughs to the screen with their squabbling. But he does introduce her to a club owner---played by pop idol Frankie Valli---who gives her a job.  Oren’s life is thrown off the tracks when his son drops off a granddaughter (Sterling Jerins) The son is going off to jail for a minor charge and the girl enters Oren’s life at an awkward moment. Oren’s solution is to pawn her off on neighbor Leah as he doesn’t know what to do. Douglas’ floundering and awkwardness with a granddaughter he has never met is hilarious. The actor must show disinterest and yet become slowly attracted emotionally to the little girl. Douglas is a champion at being likable in an unlikable part. (See Gordon Gecko in the Wall Street movies). He’s superb and Keaton comes in a close second as a master of screen acting.

Keaton and Douglas play two people old enough to pair up. He’s impossible and she’s idealistic and probably not meant for each other. The situations are volatile and yet funny and they lash out at each other until they find a common ground as adults.

Real estate agent co-worker Claire is played by the wonderful stage and screen veteran Frances Sternhagen. She steals every scene she is in and Douglas is generous enough to let her shine. She’s 84 and has nothing to lose by being honest. And she’s hilarious as well. Ms. Sternhagen is the winner of two Broadway Tony Awards. Her first came in 1974 in The Good Doctor  as Best Supporting Actress as well as for The Heiress in 1995. She is the recipient of five other Tony nominations. She is best known to audiences for her role in Driving Miss Daisy, the 1988 Pulitzer-Prize winning drama, which she played for two years. Unfortunately for Sternhagen, Jessica Tandy played the role in the 1989 film and won an Oscar® for it!

And So It Goes is a funny, adult film that is a nice 90+ minutes that isn’t tough on your bottom. You don’t have to sit through two hours of explosions and alien invasions. Just bring your funny bone, a delightful attitude, and your hunger for an adult comedy that doesn't insult your intelligence.

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