Greetings again from the darkness. It’s very painful to witness the aftermath of an artist who has surrendered all creative efforts. Rob Reiner seems to be the director’s version of actor Nicolas Cage … just keep churning out projects that require no effort, yet provide a paycheck. Pride be damned!
This movie is clearly aimed at the over 55 group, and falls into the genre I fondly call “gray cinema”. Although a more fitting description of this movie’s specific genre would be “insipid cinema”. It’s one of those movies that assumes anyone watching it has no interest in thinking, and only goes to the theatre for air conditioning and popcorn. It’s not condescending, as that would imply it thought itself to be sharper/wittier than the audience. Instead, it treats the audience as if we have reverted to the level of adolescence for comedy, romance and dialogue.
Michael Douglas stars as Oren Little, a selfish, racist, bitter, lonely Realtor faced with the insurmountable life decision of leaving Connecticut for his lake house in Vermont. The only thing left is selling off his $8 million family house … that is, until his estranged, former drug-addicted son shows up on his way to jail and drops off Oren’s 10 year old granddaughter (Sterling Jerins). Fortunately for the little girl, Oren’s neighbor is the kindly Leah (Diane Keaton) who embraces the girl despite Oren’s aloofness.
Enough about the story … though it is written by Mark Andrus who also wrote the decent As Good As it Gets. If you were to subject yourself to this movie, you would see: Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton alternating between scripted, lifeless flirtations and scripted, lifeless bickering; a pathetic attempt at slapstick by having Oren deliver another neighbor’s baby on his sofa; the running gag of Ms. Keaton’s character breaking into tears while singing during her nightclub act; and a paintball gun used to ward off a dog doing business on the manicured lawn. If you don’t overdose on lameness with those scenes, you should be warned that somehow a little boy’s penis is the subject for multiple one-liners. Somehow this even overrides Oren’s racism for levels of inappropriateness (without the laughs).
Mr. Reiner has directed 3 classic films: This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, and When Harry Met Sally. He also has some other entertaining films to his name including A Few Good Men and Misery. All of that just makes his last decade the more disappointing ( a very kind word for it). I will never be convinced that “gray cinema” cannot be entertaining and thought-provoking. Douglas and Keaton shouldn’t have to limit themselves to supporting roles only in order to part of a quality film. However, if this is all they get offered, I recommend working personally with writers to develop projects that don’t embarrass themselves or the audience.
Other than the obvious questions about how this script received the “go-ahead”, two questions have stuck with me since seeing this one: Why did Frankie Valli appear in this and not Jersey Boys? Why doesn’t Frances Sternhagen work more?
SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you clearly understand that there are no refunds for movie ticket purchases
SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you are not at the age where dog pooping jokes crack you up.
* The trailer is not being posted here just in case it might trick you into going to the movie. If you still go, I absolve myself of any blame.