Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Because I Said So

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For many, Diane Keaton's performance in Annie Hall was a revelation: She seemed like the Katharine Hepburn of her generation, supremely intelligent yet playful and charming, with a distinct sort of flightiness suggesting that all her synapses weren't firing in unison. It's such a shame to see that loveable persona denigrated in movies like Because I Said So, which just makes her look like a blithering idiot. For instance, in a secret attempt to play Cupid for her unhitched daughter Mandy Moore, Keaton tries to find an online dating site, but accidentally logs onto a streaming porn video instead. Sounds pretty dumb, right? Well, it gets worse, because Keaton can't figure out how to get off the page, so she frantically hits buttons, throws a blanket over the monitor, and calls Gateway tech support with the audio at full volume. Meanwhile, her dog starts humping the ottoman. This, apparently, is comedy.

Like a lot of romantic comedies, Because I Said So shrouds a potentially real and affecting situation in several layers of bullshit. The concept of a mother fretting over her daughter's love life—and, in turn, needing some companionship of her own—sounds common enough, and Keaton's behind-the-scenes wrangling has a classic Jane Austen ring. It doesn't take long for the clichés to kick in, however: As soon as Keaton places the ad to find a mate for Moore, the film delivers a montage of ridiculous candidates who can barely feed and dress themselves, much less woo an attractive, career-minded woman. From the rough emerges a diamond of sorts in wealthy architect Tom Everett Scott, but Keaton's choice for Moore isn't necessarily the best man for her, especially when sweet-natured musician Gabriel Macht enters the picture.

Not to give anything away, but who would you choose: an architect who designs cold modern structures and treats you like you don't have a mind of your own, or a down-to-earth guitarist who acts like a bohemian Jerry Maguire? Nothing about how these relationships play out is the least bit surprising—after all, the film hails from the screenwriters behind Stepmom—but Because I Said So is bearable because of the women in the cast, including Piper Perabo and Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham, who brighten up their few scenes as Moore's older sisters. Or maybe just watching them is a nice break from all the dog reaction shots. Either way, any relationship between the world of Because I Said So and actual human behavior is purely coincidental.