And So It Goes
Oren Little is a big jerk.
No point in being coy about it. Oren may be a dynamite real-estate agent, but as a person, he's a world-class heel. He makes a pre-reform Ebenezer Scrooge look like the class cut-up, Darth Vader seem cuddly, Voldemort … well, you get the point. He saves his only kind words for a tombstone—his wife's, who died some years before.
Under normal circumstances, Oren wouldn't be hanging out with anybody (much to their mutual relief). But he's in the process of selling his massive mansion, and since he's the guy selling it, he can't quite yet shuffle on up to Vermont like he wants to. For now, in order to keep his house nice and tidy, he's living in "Little Shangri-La," a smallish fourplex he owns. And he's a bit out of step with his tenants.
Ray and Kennedy, a young couple with a baby on the way, squabble with him over the way he hogs the driveway. Kate has taught her youngest sons to mimic Oren's wagging finger while shouting "Too much noise!" And Leah, the 65-year-old would-be lounge singer … well, she tries to be nice, but Oren isn't having any of it.
Or at least he wasn't … until Sarah showed up.
Luke, Oren's estranged son, dropped the girl off on his way to prison. Sentenced to nine months in the big house for a crime he didn't commit, he needs someone to watch his 9-year-old girl. Oren, naturally, says no. He has no more affection for his son than anyone else, after all, and he certainly has no time or inclination to care for some giggling granddaughter. But when Sarah arrives anyway, it's Leah who steps in and takes the little girl under her wing, promising that they'll take care of her somehow.
And, as the movie's title suggests, so it goes … for a while. Oren grouses and whines and makes Sarah baloney sandwiches. Leah takes the girl out to look for caterpillars and feeds her ice cream. And slowly their shared little castaway brings Leah and Oren closer together—day by sunny day, night by moonlit night. Oren discovers he loves Leah's singing voice (though he thinks she shouldn't cry so much during her performances). Leah learns that Oren isn't so bad (if you catch him at the right moment).
The three begin to form a family, one little sandwich at a time.
[Spoilers are contained in the following sections.]
Oren and Leah are both still grieving over their lost spouses. Leah bursts into tears whenever she sings certain songs. Oren—well, you've already read about how he's dealing with his loss. But through Sarah they develop a friendship that becomes a romance. They discover they care for each other, and they come to think the world of the little girl who's been dropped into their laps. They begin to grow out of their grief and transform into better people.
Oren needs the most work, of course. But thanks to Sarah and Leah, he turns from permanent sourpuss into a lovable and caring (if still somewhat curmudgeonly) soul. Instead of fighting with Ray and Kennedy over parking, he helps deliver Kennedy's baby. Instead of carping at Kate about her kids, he helps find her a larger home. In the opening moments of the movie, ornery Oren shoots a stray dog with a paintball gun. By the time the story's tapering down, he's practically adopted the poor pooch. Most critically, perhaps, he gives his son a second chance.
When Luke first asks Oren to take Sarah, it's obvious that father and son haven't seen each other for years. Luke begs Oren to care for the girl—there really is no one else he can ask. "I already tried to raise a child," Oren says, getting into his car. "It didn't work out." But when Sarah arrives anyway, Oren discovers that his wayward son has changed. Yeah, he was once a drug addict, but he's been clean for years now. His prison sentence turns out to be for a crime that, quite literally, no one ever even committed. He took an unfair plea deal because if he risked a trial, he'd be away from Sarah for potentially much, much longer. He clearly loves his daughter more than anything.
Seeing that Luke isn't quite the ne'er-do-well he imagined, Oren begins the long process of patching up the relationship—first by hiring a good lawyer for his boy. And when Luke gets out on appeal, Oren's there to pick him up.
Oren describes how he cared for and prayed for his cancer-stricken wife for two years. Leah tells Sarah that Native Americans believed butterflies would take wishes up to the "giant spirit in heaven."
As Leah and Oren get closer, Oren begins angling to introduce a more physical dimension to their relationship. Though he confesses he strained his ACL the last time he had sex, he's eager to give it another go. And, indeed, after much kissing, the two do wind up in bed together. (We see them under the covers.) Oren skedaddles soon after, an obvious retreat that infuriates Leah. "I don't do casual sex," she says much later. "I never could. … Love always comes with a price."
Oren later does commit to a real relationship with Leah—not the "friends with benefits" arrangement he'd originally been hoping for—but there's no indication that his commitment comes with a ring.
Kate's teenage son strips out of his swim trunks on the front lawn. Though people shield him from one side with a towel, Oren complains about being exposed to the boy's privates. He later warns Sarah to stay away from the lad because he "showed me his penis." Oren and Leah have some sexually frank discussions around Sarah, and when Kennedy's delivering a baby on Oren's couch, Leah tells Sarah that this is why she should never have sex. She also tells Kennedy, rather needlessly, that there's a "head in your vagina." Other bits of lewd and suggestive banter are exchanged. And Leah mentions that she hasn't had sex for four years.
A dog "humps" a stuffed animal. Leah tells Oren that she's had dogs that were more romantic than he is. We see a young woman wander around in bra and panties.
As mentioned, Oren shoots a dog with a paintball gun.
Crude or Profane Language
A half-dozen uses of the s-word. We hear "a--" five or six times and "h---" three or four. Crude references to sexual body parts include "d--k" (which is used at least four times). God's name is misused more than a dozen times (once with "d--n"), and Jesus' name is abused at least four times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
We learn that Luke was once a heroin addict. One of the breaking points in his relationship with Oren happened at his mother's funeral: He showed up stoned, then passed out and knocked his head against a gravestone. But he's been clean for several years now, and he says, "Heroin's an ugly drug, but it gave me a beautiful girl."
When Oren, Leah and Sarah visit Sarah's mother, we can see she's chemically impaired. She staggers out of the house, gushes about how beautiful Sarah is and collapses while hugging the girl. Oren also meets one of Luke's old drug-addled friends: His face is covered with blemishes and his house is filled with zoned-out guests (or residents). Oren pries information out of him by bribing him with $100—money they both know will be used to buy more drugs.
Oren and the other residents of Little Shangri-La drink frequently. We see wine, martinis and mojitos all imbibed, and Oren staggers around his property quite tipsy at one point. Scenes take place at lounges or bars. Oren's real estate assistant, Claire, smokes a lot. (When she lights up in a lounge and someone tells her that smoking isn't allowed there, Claire says that's great, since the employee who brought it up is too young to take up such a bad habit. And she continues to puff away.)
Other Negative Elements
One of Luke's old good-for-nothing friends talks about how they all used to steal money to buy drugs. When Claire sees some potential buyers for Oren's mansion who happen to be Latino, she assumes they're gardeners. And race is used as the basis of a few other jokes as well. Oren jokes with Sarah that they'll break her father out of prison with "lawyers, money, guns."
In the midst of the movie, Sarah gets involved in a summertime science project: She captures a caterpillar and films it every day as it eats, builds a cocoon and eventually transforms into a butterfly.
Oren is the human caterpillar here, of course. We watch as he undergoes his own metamorphosis from a shuffling, cantankerous old grouch to a good neighbor, caring grandfather and super-duper companion. It's a predictable transformation, I suppose—but then again, so is the caterpillar's. The fact that we know what's coming doesn't eliminate the sweet payoff.
But this Rob Reiner romcom never really transforms itself into something better. Weighed down by foul language, inappropriate talk and sexuality unconnected to marriage, And So It Goes is neither as beautiful or as wholesome as you might think it should be.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Michael Douglas as Oren Little; Diane Keaton as Leah; Sterling Jerins as Sarah; Annie Parisse as Kate; Maurice Jones as Ray; Yaya DaCosta as Kennedy; Scott Shepherd as Luke; Frances Sternhagen as Claire
July 25, 2014
November 18, 2014