There are a million reasons not to like realtor Oren Little (Michael Douglas), and that’s just the way he likes it. Willfully obnoxious to anyone who might cross his path, he wants nothing more than to sell one last house and retire in peace and quiet — until his estranged son suddenly drops off a granddaughter (Sterling Jerins) he never knew existed and turns his life upside-down. Clueless about how to care for a sweet, abandoned nine-year-old, he pawns her off on his determined and lovable neighbor Leah (Diane Keaton) and tries to resume his life uninterrupted. But little by little, Oren stubbornly learns to open his heart – to his family, to Leah, and to life itself – in this uplifting comedy from acclaimed director Rob Reiner.
My Opinion: Ooh. This movie’s was done before – and better – when it was called As Good As It Gets. The comparison isn’t me being glib. The film comes from the same screenwriter, but it’s much weaker this time around. The story doesn’t just work in broad stereotypes; it has to get out character backstory in some of the worst exposition dumps I’ve seen this year. There’s also a tonal inconsistency that takes hold throughout the film. A grossout scene is followed by a painfully dramatic one, and you can tell because of the musical cue.
Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton are both fine, talented actors, but Douglas can’t pull off “smug bastard” the way he could in the 80s, let alone to the level of Jack Nicholson. Keaton, meanwhile, can pull off Leah’s weepy moments, but it’s a leap to imagine her as a super-talented lounge singer. She doesn’t have the voice for it. They’re not helped by Rob Reiner’s direction. Reiner’s directed his fair share of solid films, but this isn’t one of them.