Tag Archives: Diane Keaton

Or Don’t

Maybe I Do

by Hope Madden

Writer/director Michael Jacobs is best known for producing TV shows that speak to teens: My Two Dads, Boy Meets World, and Girl Meets World. But just seconds after what feels like the longest pre-film credits in the history of cinema, his feature film Maybe I Do makes certain we know this is not that.

The romantic dramedy enlists four truly great veteran talents to take a peek at romance, love, and existential angst in your sixties.

Grace (Diane Keaton, who executive produces) can’t help but notice Sam (William H. Macy), who’s sobbing at a foreign film as he dumps M&Ms into his popcorn tub. She reaches out to him because he “seems distressed.” He assumes that, as she is also alone at a movie, she, too, is distressed.

She admits she is, but honestly, there’s nothing wrong with going alone to the movies. I’m saying that, not Diane.

Anyway, they bond. Meanwhile, Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon quietly out-hot each other. And across town, young Michelle (Emma Roberts) questions an uncertain future with Allen (Luke Bracey).

So, the film offers three different vignettes of couples talking, arguing, and ruminating about love until worlds collide in the most obvious and contrived way possible. The sheer volume of cliches at work here could drown out almost anything of value, but how do you dismiss a film starring Macy, Keaton, Sarandon and Gere? Even the tritest dollops of wisdom sound charming and/or wizened coming from one of these four.

Gere and Macy together are a particularly tender treat, and while I applaud the actors and the opportunity the film allows, this scene best articulates the movie’s most nagging weakness. The whole film is sad for successful men who are dissatisfied with how their lives turned out. No one on earth is less pitiable than a successful middle-aged white man and his angst over what he hasn’t accomplished. But Gere and Macy almost make it work.

The second biggest problem is that the film hits traditional romance so hard. The act that has Michelle rethinking her relationship with Allen should be a red flag, an end to the relationship. Instead, it becomes a “marry me or it’s over” ultimatum. No. No! And then the whole film, one brimming with wildly unhappy marrieds, intends to prove to us all that you just have to go ahead and take the leap with someone who publically humiliated you to make sure they didn’t have to commit to you.

No.

Maybe I Do is unabashedly romantic, deeply traditional, well-meaning and tired. So tired. But at least you get to see four tremendous actors riff off each other for 90 minutes.

Diane Keaton Makes Everything Better

Mack and Rita

by Isaiah Merritt

There are some rare talents with a unique set of skills that own a certain genre of film or character type. So much so that the mere mention of their name gives you a clear portrait of what is to be expected on the screen and an assurance that they are going to nail every bit of that role. Not to say they can’t play other roles well, but no one can play THEIR role the way they can.

Diane Keaton proves yet again that no one can play the manic-loveable woman in comedic crisis the way she can in Katie Aselton’s Mack and Rita – a comedy not so steeped in reality about remaining true to yourself during the social media age.

The film follows Mack (Elizabeth Lail), a 30-year-old woman with an old soul whose life changes forever when she transforms into her 70-year-old self “Rita” (Diane Keaton). This transformation prompts a quirky journey of self-discovery for our titular character(s) as she navigates love, friendship, and career woes. 

The beginning of this film has a rocky start. The tone is unclear, many of the comedic beats seem a bit forced, and the devices used to push the story forward are lazy. Then Diane arrives… and makes everything better. 

From the moment she appears on the screen the film is more interesting. The comedic moments seemingly designed for Keaton land much better. However, she is not the only player to save this film from its predictable and conventional plot. 

The ever-charismatic Taylour Paige and the stunning Loretta Devine are exquisite in their roles and are clear standouts in this star-studded cast that includes the likes of Wendie Malick, Lois Smith and Amy Hill – all of whom are delightful. 

Visually the film is also aided by fun costume pieces and a polished, somewhat campy aesthetic that fits the tone of the film perfectly. 

While the performances are a treat and the costumes pleasing to the eye, Mack and Rita doesn’t offer anything new or inventive. If you are looking for a quick, light-hearted popcorn film, Mack and Rita is the film for you.

Gimme an A! A! R! P!

Poms

by Christie Robb

At a time when movies are pushing three hours, it feels weird to want one to run longer, but at just over an hour and a half, Poms feels way too short. It’s like a long SNL sketch.

A female-centric comedy about a retired teacher aching for one last shot at her childhood dream of becoming a cheerleader seems like a good option for Mother’s Day weekend—especially for the Boomers and their kids. The cast looks solid: Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, and Rhea Perlman. Poms coming “from the studio that brought you Bad Moms” appears promising.

But it’s all just perfunctory.

Director Zara Hayes and writer Shane Atkinson, both TV veterans making feature debuts, introduce characters via montage and then give them little to do or say.

People become strange antagonists, set on denying the senior cheerleading squad practice/performance time for no discernible reason. Folks burst into tears or have 180 degree shifts in perspective simply because the plot demands it.

Still, Keaton’s performance of a woman striving to live in the moment while hiding terminal cancer is effective. The chemistry between Keaton’s snarky Martha and Jacki Weaver’s bubbly Sheryl is cute. And when they are performing, the women look like they are having a nice time.

You just wish that there was more of a story there, more character development, more cheerleading even. The cast is way too good for this.

Gray Matters

Book Club

by George Wolf

Book Club offers up a boatload of veteran Oscar winners and nominees, but limps to its final chapter as a ninety minute catch-22. So many roles for senior stars: good! What this movie makes of those roles: not so much.

Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen are Diane, Vivian, Sharon, and Carol, lifelong friends who began a monthly book club back in the 70s with the scandalous Fear of Flying.

With all four friends now comfortable in their golden years, the randy Vivian chooses Fifty Shades of Grey as the group’s next assignment. The girls are a bit hesitant at first but right on cue, Christian and Anna’s naughty romps reignite some fires down below.

Laughing at older people being sexual is beyond lazy, it’s ignorant. Thankfully director/co-writer Bill Holderman, in his debut feature, does seem actually interested in laughing more with his stars than at them.

But too many of those laughs are leftovers from every episode of Three’s Company, when Mr. Roper overhears Jack and Chrissy in the bedroom saying something like “It’s not big enough!” while we know they were just trying to hang a curtain rod the whole time! Ribaldry!

While the ladies juggle possible boyfriends (Richard Dreyfuss, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson) and a disinterested husband (Craig T. Nelson), contrived antics and double entendres go straight to the unfunny bone.

If you were checking off boxes, all the rich, white characters and romantic fantasies would seem like Nancy Meyers material. But Book Club can’t dig any more than surface deep, and even with all this talent, it never shows the confidence in character that elevates Meyers’s best (It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give).

And then, a surprisingly subtle metaphor built around the comeback of vinyl albums gives you reason to believe Holderman’s heart is in the right place here, he’s just in over his head.

 





It Doesn’t Go So Well

And So It Goes

by Hope Madden

Michael Douglas turns 70 this year, and though, in younger years, he carved out some memorable characters, in his final lap he’s really found his niche. No longer dependent on the vain smolder of his unreasonably popular 90s output, the battle-tested pro has settled into a groove playing elderly scoundrels. And So It Goes offers him another opportunity, this time with Oren Little, widowed misanthrope.

Oren falls for lounge singing sweetheart Leah (Diane Keaton), but his abrasive personality and a mind-numbing series of contrivances stand in the way of true love.

Though Keaton simply recycles the same character she’s played with minor variations since 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give, the banter between these two vets is never less than charming.

But let me ask you something…when was the last time Rob Reiner made a good movie? Admittedly, he directed, bar none, cinema’s greatest mockumentary, as well as two of the best Stephen King adaptations on record. His whole Eighties catalog impresses and entertains.  A Few Good Men doesn’t suck outright.

After that, meh.

Even Douglas and all his geriatric charisma can’t overcome Reiner’s schmaltz or writer Mark Andrus’s insulting screenplay.

In 1997, Andrus wrote As Good As It Gets, a yarn about a curmudgeonly loner whose heart is warmed by a series of humanizing obstacles and the love of a good woman. In 2014 it’s the same story, different obstacles.

Conflict appears and conveniently disappears as soon as it’s served its purpose. One hollow plot device after another springs up to teach lessons and warm hearts, yet keep the two love birds apart. The lazy scripting is almost as offensive as the way the film casually embraces the stereotype that the elderly are racist. Reiner gives Andrus’s lines an eye rolling “oh those racist scamps” kind of spin that’s beneath the characters these actors are trying so valiantly to create.

The whole team is simply cashing in on the new market for old talent, films like Something’s Gotta Give and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel having proven that there is an audience for late life romances. The great thing about that revelation is that it allows talents like Keaton, Douglas and others the opportunity to lead films.

The unfortunate side effect – one felt in any proven cinematic market – is the soulless cash grab.

Like this movie.

Verdict-2-0-Stars