And So It Goes as forgettable as its title

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Directed by Rob Reiner. Starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. Rated PG.

A confection crafted for moviegoers of a certain age, And So It Goes can’t be accused of overreach; it settles for doing a certain thing well and allows the audience to share the pleasure its cast had in doing it.

The forgettably titled movie (no shout-outs to Kurt Vonnegut intended) was written by Mark Andrus, who also helped script such middlebrow fare as Georgia Rule and As Good as It Gets. Here, Michael Douglas gets the Jack Nicholson role (and smirk) as Oren Little, a wealthy real-estate broker floundering since the loss of his beloved wife some years earlier.

A sarcastic, cheap, and generally inconsiderate SOB, Oren’s especially nasty to his son (Austin Lysy), a former addict who got caught up in a Wall Street–ish scam and needs help with his 10-year-old daughter (World War Z’s Sterling Jerins). Good thing she’s adorable, because the girl is dumped on Oren, along with the dog that’s been so purposefully defiling the precious lawn of his palatial family home, which he’s desperately trying to sell.

Ensconced at his vacation apartment in lakeside Connecticut, he suddenly has two more mouths to feed. This proves to be a bonding predicament for Oren and his closest neighbour, Leah (Diane Keaton), whose own partner died not long ago. Her emotions well up often, especially during the melancholy jazz ballads she sings on weekends at a local café, accompanied by pianist Rob Reiner, who also directed—although probably without the comically bad toupee.

Keaton is a master of the inappropriate crying jag, and she’s no less funny having done the same shtick in Something’s Gotta Give, opposite good ol’ Jack. This is easygoing stuff, and we can’t help but root for Leah’s return to a full life (and a $1,500-a-week singing gig?). But there was no real reason to have Oren indulge in genteelly racist humour, let alone assist in a live birth. Okay, life is messy and too damn short, which makes Reiner’s decision to end the movie on a huge patch of cloudless blue sky look even more dishonest.

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