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Because I Said So (January 28/07)

Though it's become something of a cliche to draw parallels between any given film and a garden-variety sitcom, Because I Said So essentially invites such comparisons by stressing hackneyed comedic devices, insanely over-the-top performances, and an overall vibe of predictability. Even those with a high tolerance for so-called "chick flicks" will find little to embrace here, as the movie simply doesn't hold up when compared to similarly-themed efforts (ie 2005's In Her Shoes).

Diane Keaton stars as Daphne, an aging spinster who seems to spend all of her free time pestering her three daughters on how to live their respective lives - with youngest child Milly (Mandy Moore) on the receiving end of Daphne's unwanted attention. Concerned that she's not dating enough, Daphne attempts to find an appropriate suitor for Milly by placing a personal ad on the internet and eventually settles on successful architect Jason (Tom Everett Scott). Complications ensue after a down-to-earth musician named Johnny (Gabriel Macht) also begins dating Milly, despite Daphne's strenuous objections.

It doesn't take long for Because I Said So to announce its less-than-competent intentions, with the early inclusion of several distinctly unfunny comedic bits cementing the film's status as lowest-common-denominator entertainment (ie an incredibly tedious montage that finds Daphne going through a whole host of potential beaus for Milly, including a lesbian, a ventriloquist, and a jolly immigrant). The subsequent emphasis on increasingly silly interludes - including not one but two moments in which Keaton's Daphne clumsily winds up splattered with cake - ensures that the film's various characters are never developed beyond their most superficial attributes.

That both Keaton and Moore are surprisingly awful in their respective roles certainly doesn't help matters, with Keaton delivering a painfully over-the-top, tic-ridden performance and Moore simply unable to step into the shoes of a dowdy figure. Director Michael Lehmann doesn't allow even a hint of subtlety into the proceedings, guaranteeing that even the most ignorant viewer will have no problem foreseeing each of the film's well-worn plot points (there's even a fake break-up!)

There is finally - in the movie's third act - a genuinely heartfelt sequence between Daphne and Milly that possesses precisely the sort of authenticity that's sorely lacking from everything that preceded it, but one would be awfully hard-pressed to actually care by that point.

out of