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And So It Goes

I’m sure some critics will be dismissive of And So It Goes, writing it off as just another “geezer pleaser” (to use the term coined by Variety for entertainment that appeals to an older crowd). But this sweet film deserves a break, especially as it offers juicy leading roles to Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. Neither one of them sloughs off this romantic yarn: these are conscientious actors and it’s a pleasure to watch them work together.

The screenplay, by Mark Andrus (As Good As It Gets), isn’t daring or highly original, but it offers its stars a vehicle that calls on both their comedic and dramatic chops. Director Rob Reiner knows this territory well and handles the material with an admirably light touch, making the most of the story’s Connecticut setting.

Douglas plays a foul-tempered real-estate salesman who hasn’t had a happy moment since his wife died. He lives in a modest waterfront apartment and makes a habit of irritating his fellow tenants—including the nice woman next door (Keaton), who works as a lounge singer. She, too, is still mourning the loss of a spouse, but comes to Douglas’ aid when he is suddenly given the responsibility of caring for his 10-year-old granddaughter.

Both actors bring conviction to their roles. Douglas isn’t being cute when he’s curt with people: he’s genuinely rude and doesn’t care. Keaton projects great warmth and does a beautiful job singing a handful of standards. (If she weren’t any good in those nightclub scenes the whole film would collapse.)

Few movies are destined to please every segment of the audience. Transformers fans might find this film boring or irrelevant; I could say the same about their favorite summer release. But as someone who has admired Douglas and Keaton for years and welcomes a respite from noisy summertime fare, I had a good time with And So It Goes.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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