– Summary –
Director : Michael Lehmann
Year Of Release : 2007
Principal Cast : Diane Keaton, Mandy Moore, Gabriel Macht, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo, Colin Ferguson.
Approx Running Time : 90 Minutes
Synopsis: An overbearing mother has a personal ad made for her youngest daughter, in order to find her a man. She cannot help but be involved in her daughters’ lives, much to their (and our) frustration.
What we think : Truly dreadful film purporting to be a romantic comedy, of which it is neither, with Diane Keaton sullying any and all her previous good work in the film industry, Because I Said So is absolutely devoid of quality. Even for women, this film will be hard to swallow as an entertainment.
My tolerance for fluffy, girly romantic comedies is pretty average at best, it must be said, and I normally go out of my way to avoid anything that looks like its going to be a waste of my time to watch. My wife and I were sitting on the couch the other day, flicking through the TV channels and finding nothing on, when she suggested that we watch a movie. Okay, I thought to myself, how’s it going to play out this time? Normally it’s one of a selection of films including Love Actually, The Notebook, The Wedding Singer or Uncle Buck – all her favorite-watch-anytime films. This time, however, she skipped over the BluRay selection, past Eagle Eye (a film I want to watch again…) and Centurion, past Watchmen and even Kick-Ass, until she moved back down to her selection of DVD’s on the shelf. Paused for a moment, and then pulled out Because I Said So. Damn. It’s got f***ing Diane Keaton in it. Not my favorite actress, I have to say. I rolled my eyes, got a look like hot mud from the wife, and nodded my quiet assent to watching what I knew was going to be a disaster.
Because I Said So is not only a disaster, it’s an un-flushed toilet of a disaster. It’s an interminable exercise in comedy, and an unwatchable mess of a romance. Diane Keaton, only barely tolerable in that Sarah Jessica Parker flick The Family Stone, is an unmitigated horror in this, as the overbearing mother with pretensions of knowing what’s best for her daughters… and their love lives. Mandy Moore, who I’ve liked in everything else I’ve seen her in, has the unfortunate problem of starring in a film with a vacuum of intellect, alongside actresses trying to make their characters more lively than they are scripted to – it’s like trying to make a silk purse from a sows ear, and each of them fails utterly. What I struggled to make out, though, was whether that was a fault of the scripting, the direction, or the acting. Probably all three. In any case, the film has a major problem in that it lacks a soul.
The main issue I see with this film is that the script hasn’t any real charm. The characters don’t breathe on the screen, they just exist, like plastic mannequins come to life. Leads Keaton and Moore, both of whom have done better elsewhere, appear to be slumming it in this weedy, ill-defined semi-fantasy, as mother and daughter respectively. Keaton, as the Wilder matriarch, Daphne, has an issue with her youngest daughter Milly (Moore), who seems less interested in finding Mr Right as she does running her catering business. Daphne is worried Milly may end up like her – alone and lonely – and puts a personal ad into the paper to scout for suitable suitors. After a fairly rigorous meet-and-greet with potential future son-in-laws at a local hotel, she meets Jason (Everett Scott, slumming it…), a wealthy young man who himself is seeking Mrs Right. Hotel band leader Johnny (Macht) has been watching these events all day, approaches Daphne and offers himself up as a potential suitor, but Daphne’s overt prejudice sees him disregarded out of hand. Johnny doesn’t take no for an answer, and tracks Milly down, and the two start dating. Meanwhile, Jason also meets Milly and they start to date, which causes the normally passive Milly to suddenly find herself in a sticky situation – which of the two men does she want? The musician with a kid who lives with his father, but is a great guy, or the slightly snobby architect one who only wants Milly as yet another ornament for his collection? Of course, the best bit is when Milly finds out what her mother has been up to: and dumps both her suitors forthwith.
Honestly, the people who wrote this tripe need to be flagellated until they turn blue. Because I Said So has almost no redeeming social values whatsoever, and character development so minuscule it’s like a badly made sitcom pilot stretched to 90 minutes. None of the characters within the film grow or change, especially the stupid mother, which means by the time you get to the end of the film, all that arguing and emotional torment has been for nothing, because these people are so insipidly written they might as well be cardboard cutouts. Director Michael Lehmann, who gave us the delightful The Truth About Cats and Dogs, as well as 40 Days and 40 Nights, both of which had their good points, flails about here like a man so unconvinced with the material he can’t figure out whether to make this semi-serious, semi-comedic, or a flat out drama – and ends up making a hodgepodge of everything. The film doesn’t start well, it doesn’t end well, and the stuff in the middle could adequately be described as wank. There’s nothing to this film at all, no substance of any kind, and with acting performances like Keaton’s threatening to turn this into some sort of farce (which Hollywood doesn’t do well), the movie drags and drags and drags itself along by the barest entertainment margins. Lehmann can’t bring any humor in this rancid script, nor can he generate any audience attachment for the most empathetic character of Milly – Mandy Moore is acting in a different film than what she thought: it’s trying to be an adult contemporary comedy, but the ideas the film espouses are so far-fetched it beggars belief. Not even the Farrelly Brothers could make this crap any better. The editing and choice of camera angles is flat, uninspired and only just passable for a made-for-TV telemovie.
But let’s turn our attention to what has to be described as the most execrable performance caught on film since Halle Berry played Catwoman: Diane Keaton playing Daphne Wilder. By all that is holy, Keaton gives one of the most manic performances of her career (at least that I’ve seen), and it’s also the most horrifying screen portrayal of anything resembling a human being I’ve seen in decades. Watching Keaton
act screech her way through this mess is like being asked to scrape skid-marks of the toilet with your fingers. She’s awful, and it’s a wonder she allowed this film to see the light of day… if she bothered watching it back before release. Her screen persona here is one of annoyance, the won’t-shut-up-ever kind of character that makes audiences want to claw out their eyeballs and pour acid into their ears so they never have to see or hear it again. The script calls for her to be a buffoon, a complete imbecile, in several scenes, before she returns to normal in others. It’s the kind of unbalanced character written by people who think all women are idiots when they’re parents. Which is untrue. She can’t even operate a computer properly: in a few scenes, she accidentally stumbles onto some porn, and for some reason can’t turn the volume off when the phone rings and she stupidly, stupidly answers it. Seriously? This is how these writers are striving for laughs? She also decides to tail Milly and Jason in her car, unexpectedly driving like an imbecile because she’s so impossibly keen to know which of the men her daughter has chosen, she can’t possibly just leave it the f*** alone woman!!!!!!!!!! Keaton should know better than to turn in a performance so undesirable, so shallow and affronting. It’s inexcusable.
Don’t let the rest of the cast off the hook, though. Mandy Moore does her best with the limited material, but she’s shoehorned into being an indecisive moron by the equally moronic script. She tries valiantly to rise above the material, but can’t. Piper Perabo, who is a fine actress herself, has the largest cameo ever filmed in this; she’s in the film for fifteen minutes and barely says three sentences, and those aren’t worth hearing anyway! Lauren Graham gets a bit of substance as Maggie, Milly’s psychologist sister, a character who should recognize her own mothers emotional and psychological deficits and do something about it, but never ventures beyond being merely a way for the plot to advance so inorganically it reminds me of those little plastic flowers you see in doctors waiting rooms. The boys, Gabriel Macht and Tom Everett Scott, are passably charming, with Macht taking the cake for being the most obvious eventual choice for our heroine, but they’re nothing more than cliches.
Because I Said So is a shitty film. I don’t know how it ended up in my collection, nor do I wish it to remain there. My wife, who had the temerity to try and justify the action of the characters in the film as “realistic” (which indicates just how far gone she is towards thinking chick-flicks are based on real life), is not going to watch this in my presence again. Flaccid, lamentably predictable and howlingly awful, this film is beyond the pale for stupid, stupid film-making. And it frustrates me that shitty crud like this can be made while genuinely talented filmmakers, with original and amazing ideas for films, are left to scrimp and save with only the merest budgets to achieve their dreams.
Oh, and Lisa owes me. I’m going to make her watch The Expendables. Should make for a good laugh.
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