The ridiculously named "And So It Goes" - a title that bears no relation to the film - clearly wants to cash in on the aging-lovers genre of "Something's Gotta Give."
In that transaction, it gets about 70 cents on the dollar: the movie is OK, but this is certainly not "As Good As It Gets."
The still-bankable Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star as a successful but misanthropic realtor and a small-town lounge singer, respectively, who live beside each other in a small Connecticut four-plex. Both are widowed.
Shown are Michael Douglas, left, and Diane Keaton in a scene from Rob Reiner’s romantic comedy “And So It Goes.”
As Douglas works to sell his own pricey family home, his estranged son arrives, announcing an imminent jail term and insisting that Dad take care of the son's 10-year-old daughter - about whose existence Douglas was completely unaware.
Since Douglas' character is such a heartless crab, Keaton feels bound to help, meaning, of course, that the two will fall in love. It just takes a little while - 94 minutes.
The main problem with the film is that everything is simply too easy and predictable. A brief scene with the young girl's mother constitutes just about the only left turn, yet the film immediately abandons this intriguing plot strand - its one chance to engage in some deep and complex thinking.
Writer Mark Andrus instead prefers to fall back on such staples as the potty-mouthed older woman (Frances Sternhagen, doing yeoman's work as Douglas' coworker); an awkward emergency birth; a happy family outing; the defrocking of unjust bigotry; and unfunny genitalia jokes.
All of which sounds fairly dismal, but the film really isn't too bad. Douglas and Keaton are believable and sympathetic, with Keaton doing her own surprisingly tuneful singing, and Douglas somehow managing the weird, almost instantaneous, transition from brainless jerk to lovable oaf, something not many other actors could have pulled off.
The film is also quite funny in spots, highlighted by an uproarious Sternhagen line about men, and snarky exchanges between the two unwitting lovers:
Douglas to Keaton (attempting a compliment): "I've sold houses older than you. And in a lot worse condition."
Keaton, much later, reacting to a fumbled come-on from Douglas: "I had a dog once that wouldn't leave my crotch alone, and it was more romantic than this."
"And So It Goes" also boasts a strong supporting performance from Austin Lysy as Douglas' son, an actor to keep an eye on.
However, the movie, directed by the usually reliable Rob Reiner - who also stars as Keaton's accompanist -feels perfunctory and slapped together. Even some of the cinematography looks sketchy.
Douglas and Keaton still have the stuff, and they're the main reason this clunky movie holds together.
But they both deserve better.