Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 34 min.
Our content ratings (0-10): Violence 0; Language 2; Sex/Nudity 4.
Our star rating (0-5): 3.5
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
If there ever was a man needing Paul’s advice to the Philippians, it is Oren Little (Michael Douglas). The film’s trailer is right on when it says, “There are a million reasons not to like Oren Little…” Little is a Connecticut real estate agent eager to wind up his career so he can retire to a cabin in Vermont and continue his drinking that has consumed him since the death of his wife by cancer. All that remains is for him to sell his lavish mansion, from which he has moved into one of the apartments in a lakeside complex that he owns. He is asking $8 million for his lavish estate, so selling it is quite a challenge.
Living next door to him in his apartment house is Leah (Diane Keaton), eking out a living singing at a nearby lounge. (Director Rob Reiner plays Leah’s accompanist, decked out in a hairpiece found only in movie comedies.)) She has little patience for his rude treatment of everyone. Yet when Oren’s son Luke (Scott Shepherd) comes and dumps daughter Sarah (Sterling Jerins) in his lap, it is Leah who springs to the befuddled grandfather’s aid—not for his sake but for that of the distressed girl’s. Estranged for years from his son, Oren did not even know he had a granddaughter. It seems that the father has to go away (to serve a prison term for a crime of which he is innocent), and his ex-wife is unable to take custody because she is a drug addict.
You can see what is coming, and that is the main problem with the script, its predictability. Also at first the two veteran actors do a mediocre job relating to the child actress (who is terrific in every scene), but they get better as the film progresses, until by the end there is really chemistry among the three of them.
For a really first rate tale of a crusty man being softened up by a child, I commend the wonderful Russian film Kolya, but until you can find this (probably at your public library), this more readily available film will do. Diane Keaton is as glamorous as ever, and Michael Douglas is, well, Michael Douglas, always enjoyable to watch. There are better golden years romances available, but none pairing these two, this being their first film together. Also adding to the fun is character actress Frances Sternhagen as the crotchety Claire, the one employee at the real estate agency able to stand up to Oren and match him barb for barb. She gets most of the best lines of the film.
This is not one of Rob Reiner’s great films that will be mentioned when he is given a Life Achievement Award, but the fact that he has brought two fine veteran actors together makes it worth seeing. Also, this is one to add to that growing list of films that do not poke fun at old people but show that they too can engage in romance and are still capable of change.
A set of discussion questions accompanies the review in the August issue of Visual Parables. Go to The Store to obtain a copy or a year’s subscription.