BECAUSE I SAID SO (2007)
Starring Diane Keaton, Mandy Moore, Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo, Gabriel Macht, Tom Everett Scott, Stephen Collins, Ty Panitz, Matt Champaign, Colin Ferguson and Tony Hale.
Screenplay by Karen Leigh Hopkins and Jessie Nelson.
Directed by Michael Lehmann.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 102 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Because I Said So is like a movie that has been dropped down to earth from some weird time warp from the 1960s. Literally, it seems completely and totally removed from today’s world – like an odd visitor from the Donna Reed Show days which has learned a little about sex.
It is a film that officially gives the term “chick flick” a bad name. Don’t get me wrong. Even as a man I recognize and appreciate that chick flicks can be extremely well made and effective. This is not one of those cases, though. Because I Said So is so divorced from common sense and logic that you wonder; what did four such talented actresses see in these stupid roles?
It is the story of the Wilder women. They are one of those annoying families you only see in romantic comedies that who go everywhere together, talk on the phone when they’re not with each other and periodically break out into group renditions of golden oldies.
The mother is Daphne (Diane Keaton), a smart woman, a good cook and a divorced mother of three beautiful professional daughters. Maggie, the oldest daughter (Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls) is a psychiatrist who is married with kids and settled into a comfortable if not necessarily exciting wedded existence. Mae (Piper Perabo of Coyote Ugly) is the middle daughter, who is happily married and doesn’t seem to work, just talks about sex or has it on a nearly constant basis. (Well as close to a constant basis as we can see, because the script seems to forget she is there through most of the running time. But when she is there, she’s all about sex.)
However, Daphne’s main worries all hover (the script’s word, not mine) around youngest daughter Milly (Mandy Moore) – who is beautiful, vivacious, owner of a successful catering business, sexually active and fun, but has a tendency to date the wrong guys. So despite the fact that Milly can’t be out of her mid-twenties, her mother has made it her purpose in life to get her married off – as soon as possible.
The truth is, Daphne is pathological. I mean it – completely and irretrievably insane. She is an over-bearing control-freak, a meddler on an almost super-human level. Despite the fact that she insists more than once she hates to meddle in her girls’ lives it is all she does. And yet, no matter how angry they become at her, and no matter how much they bitch about her, all the girls go straight to their mother anytime they have any news or problems.
Daphne decides to take out an internet personal ad for Milly – without actually telling her daughter about it – and meets the guys herself to decide who would be best. This leads to a stupid and borderline offensive scene where she meets a whole series of unfit potential lovers for her daughter – including the fat, the balding, the nerds, the poorly dressed, the awkward, a lesbian, the low-blood-sugared, the talkative, the quiet, the foreign – pretty much every bad date stereotype is touched on. At the very end of this trying scene, two “normal” guys show up, a handsome rich architect (Tom Everett Scott of That Thing You Do!) and an equally handsome poor guitarist (Gabriel Macht).
Though Daphne only approves of the architect, both guys go on the down low to meet Milly. Both start dating her. You can tell right away which guy is right for Milly and which guy is wrong, though of course Daphne gets it ass-backwards. She has to come around through her own return to love – one of the guys’ fathers (Stephen Collins of Seventh Heaven) reminds Daphne what passion really is about. Yawn…
The movie is so tone deaf that it thinks it is adorably precocious to have a little boy say to a woman he’s just met, “You have a ‘gina… I have a penis and you have a ‘gina… Can I see it?” In fact, scarily, the ‘gina reference comes up later, becoming a slight running gag. Other cringe-worthy scenes include a daughter trying to explain to her mother what an orgasm feels like, that same mother trying to shield her dog from having to see internet porn and the all of the Wilder women in their skivvies in a gym locker room discussing the relative values of thongs vs. granny panties. They refer to sex as “doing the oompah loompah.” Also, sadly, we have to be ear-witnesses to mom learning what an orgasm feels like after all. Yuckkk…
Yet, perhaps chief amongst Because I Said So’s many crimes against cinema is that you don’t make a movie with Diane Keaton in it and then have one of the characters swipe a line from Annie Hall – only arguably her best work and certainly the film in which Keaton became a superstar, won an Oscar and was radiant and brilliant. Because I Said So wasn’t doing well by itself without bringing to mind that vastly superior film. Not that Keaton is completely blameless in this – this is easily her worst performance in about forty years of acting – and she has released some real stinkers in the past, too.
For the record, the purloined line has Keaton suggest the guitarist who was interested in her daughter would only break her heart because he was a musician and probably looking for a fling. The guy says, “I love being reduced to a cultural cliché…” In all fairness to Because I Said So, the line in Annie Hall was about loving being reduced to a cultural stereotype, so the writers must have worked hard to use the thesaurus feature on their word processor to get the one different word.
I wish that the screenwriters had tried using the delete function instead. Not just for that one line, but for the entire script.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 16, 2007.