Let me preface this review by saying that I have, up until this moment, been a firm supporter of Diane Keaton. I’ve loved her from Annie Hall through Baby Boom, and I even stuck by her during the Something’s Gotta Give period. Yet her newest movie, Because I Said So, leaves me feeling a deep and confusing disappointment that's going to take a long time to get over.
This isn’t one of those bad-good films that's silly and campy in a heartwarming way. This is bad-bad all the way. Think squirming in embarrassment during moments of random 4-part singing without an ounce of irony. Multiply that feeling by a thousand and then decide if you want to see this movie. My advice is: don't.
Keaton plays Daphne Wilder, an overbearing, manic 60-year-old mother of three grown daughters, two of whom are married. The third child, Milly (Mandy Moore), despite being a responsible and happy person, is the one trouble spot in Daphne's life because she hasn't found her "life partner." So Daphne takes out an online ad to find a suitable mate for Milly. As a result, two different bachelors start courting Milly: a dreamboat musician (made "edgy" by his tattoos) and another guy who is laughably lame (rich, uptight, and cold). Amidst all this meddling, Daphne almost misses out on her own chance at love. Almost, but of course, not quite, so
The actresses in this film may have had fun making it, but the relationships ring empty, and the moments that are supposed to be truthful are reduced to high-pitched indecipherable squealing. Keaton is so shrieky and over-the-top that the only point I felt anything other than irritation toward Daphne is when she catches a flu, loses her voice, and has a quiet moment with Milly discussing orgasms. This relaxed moment happens to be Mandy Moore’s finest as well; otherwise her starry-eyed naivete is tiresome.
Lauren Graham is refreshing as Lorelai Gilmore — oops, I mean Milly's sister Maggie. Though slightly tamer than her Loralei character, she basically provides the same deadpan humor. Piper Perabo plays Milly's other sister, Mae, and she's barely in the movie. The "7th Heaven" dad (Stephen Collins) is actually endearing and sweet for the whole six lines he's allowed, while the other guys are 2-dimensional but very cute (especially the musician, played by Gabriel Macht).
There's also an appearance by Tony Hale, who was excellent as Buster Bluth in "Arrested Development," so it's a shame that he's involved in the most eye-rollingly bad writing in the entire film. Loralei/Maggie is a therapist who meets regularly with Stuart (Hale), who says he responded to a personal ad that a woman took out for her daughter. Maggie proceeds to belittle any woman who would stoop to that kind of low, not knowing she's bashing her own mother. When Stuart says the woman's reasoning for not having him date her daughter was "because I said so," Maggie realizes he's talking about her mother! Because clearly, no other mother in the course of history has ever used that catch phrase. Remember that confused disappointment I mentioned? This moment helped to solidify that.
I've already expressed my distaste for the term "chick flick," and this movie really exacerbates the issue. I am a chick, and I don’t identify with a single minute of the rubbish that is this movie. In fact, Because I Said So only serves to fulfill every tired cliché that women are typically lumped into — and worse, it treats female singlehood like a hereditary disease. With the help of modern science (the Internet), Daphne does everything in her power to disable the nasty gene that could leave Milly to doomed to the apparent misery of not having a husband.
It's a sad day for me and Diane Keaton. I'm going to watch Annie Hall this weekend and weep for the good ol' days. I suggest you do the same.