On the Aisle

Film Review by Tony Macklin

Because I Said So

There are chick flicks and upchuck flicks. The movie Because I Said So is an upchuck chick flick.
In Because I Said So, Diane Keaton gives the worst performance of her storied career. She goes to the head of the line as contender for a Razzie as worst actress of the year.
Keaton won a Best Actress Oscar for Annie Hall (1977) and nominations for Reds (1981), Marvin’s Room (1996), and Something’s Gotta Give (2003), and gave other memorable performances, such as in The Godfather trilogy. Now she’s a leading contender for a lousy performance award.
It’s hard to imagine that there will be a more tone-deaf, self-parodying performance this year than the one Keaton gives as a neurotic, meddling, divorced mother of three adult girls. As Daphne Wilder, Keaton is like a female goat on speed.
It’s one ugly performance.
She delivers her lines without a moment of thought. She’s loud and inane. She weedles, squints her eyes, giggles, and flails wildly about.  Annie Hall has become Annie Pratfall.
Granted much of the blame goes to the bad dialogue she’s been given to baa. But she does her damndest to baa badly. Emphasis on dam.
Keaton should do an independent film to try to get her soul back. Her soul is in product placement.
Because I Said So is the lame story of a happy harridan — mother of three daughters — who is unhappily about to turn 60.  So, of course,  mom turns her attention to her youngest daughter Milly (Mandy Moore), who she thinks is unable to land a man.
Mom goes online and takes out a personal ad seeking a lifetime partner for her daughter, who has no idea what her mother is doing. Mother as pimp.
When you start with a dumb concept, dumber is the only way to go.
Answering the ad and meeting Mother Dumbest is an urbane architect (Tom Everett Scott), who pursues the unknowing Milly. Also in the equation is Johnny (Gabriel Macht), a pleasant guitarist with a young son.
Mom is for Jason and against the less successful, but artistic Johnny.
Can you guess what’s going to happen?
Because I Said So has two writers, two editors, and half a director. Michael Lehmann started out his career directing the well-received Heathers (1989), but it’s tailed off severely with a string of mediocrities. This time out Lehmann, et al. tank.
Scott and Macht smile a lot as the generic males, as does Stephen Collins, who plays Johnny’s father, who has a thing for Mom. Emphasis on thing.
The men smile and the women whine.
Lauren Graham and Piper Perabo portray Milly’s older sisters. Perabo spouts a few pretentious zingers, and Graham, as a psychologist, gives advice. We know she’s a shrink because she has an office and one patient –a dull character made terminally dull by Tony Hale’s banal performance.
In an endless blather of witless lines, he’s given the most witless.
The wretched script by Karen Leigh Hughes — a bad actress turned bad writer — and Jessie Nelson hits all the g spots (g for godawful).
There’s cake in the face, a little boy who tells each woman he meets she has a ‘gina, a man who talks about a booger in his nose, and a woman who snorts when she laughs. Great writing.
When all else fails, the “writers” have a conversation between mother and daughter about orgasm. The daughter does all the talking, since the mom doesn’t know anything — which of course has ruined her life.
Imagine Mandy Moore trying to describe an orgasm to Diane Keaton, and you realize the peaks of pleasure this film delivers.
Actually Mandy Moore survives the toxic performance by Keaton. But the film doesn’t.
At the end of the film, it says, “No animal was harmed in the making of this film.” I beg to differ.
Ask Coop, the dog who is directed to give endless reactions. In his big scene, he is forced to hump a cushion.
Coop is now in therapy. Easy for them to say no harm was done.
But Coop shouldn’t feel too bad. He wasn’t as terrible as Diane Keaton.

Tony Macklin is the author of Voices from the Set, a collection of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne, Marty Scorsese, et al. Macklin edited the film Journal Film Heritage for 12 years.

Categories: Entertainment