Run Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Stars: Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Rob Reiner, Frances Sternhagen, Frankie Valli
Director: Rob Reiner
Rob Reiner's latest romantic comedy, And So It Goes, does not serve up many surprises, but the script has a comfort-food quality that makes the laughs uncomplicated. The pairing of A-listers Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton in a love story for grownups yields a dose of feel-good summer refreshment that merits the price of admission — especially for the age 50-plus crowd.
Cranky Connecticut real estate agent Oren Little (Douglas) is bitter over his wife's cancer death a decade earlier. He's decided to make his last bundle by selling the family estate, after which he'll retire to Vermont. Waiting for a buyer to come along, Oren moves into a vacant unit of the fourplex he owns, startling the other tenants: They include his next-door neighbor, Leah (Keaton), who plays a widowed, aspiring lounge singer, and the young couple upstairs, who are expecting their first baby.
Things don't really get interesting until Oren's estranged son, Luke (Scott Shepherd), shows up on his doorstep, accompanied by — surprise! — his 10-year-old daughter, Sarah (Sterling Jerins of World War Z). Luke, about to serve a nine-month stretch for dealing drugs, begs Oren to take temporary custody of the granddaughter he never knew he had.
With surrogate-parenting the very last item on his bucket list, Oren recruits Leah as a babysitter, freeing him to track down Sarah's mother and get back to living his self-centered life. Though Sarah's mother is revealed to be highly unavailable, the childless Leah possesses some exquisitely developed maternal instincts of her own. And when Leah starts castigating Oren for his insensitivity on their shared front porch after Sarah's bedtime one night, you can pretty much guess what will happen next.
The scenes in which Leah and Sarah interact are genuine and charming, and Reiner does an expert job of gradually softening Oren's hard edges. His minor characters are intriguing, especially Oren's chain-smoking colleague Claire (the incomparable Frances Sternhagen, who played Kyra Sedgwick's mother on The Closer); a nightclub owner for whom Leah auditions (Frankie Valli); and Leah's piano accompanist (Reiner himself). Keaton does all her own singing in the film, and she's got one sweet set of pipes. Plus the waterfront Connecticut settings, like the film overall, are easy on the eyes.
Sometimes simple and straightforward is just what the psychiatrist ordered. When it comes to And So It Goes, you'll be glad you went.
Meg Grant is West Coast editor of AARP The Magazine.