By Fred Topel | Images property of Universal Pictures.
Because I Said So
Because I Said So could have been painful. It's a mother-daughter story starring a singer. It's a romantic comedy coming out in February. All the cards are stacked against it, so though it is far from perfect, I'm giving it a pass.
Movie Review: Because I Said So
Overbearing mom Daphne (Diane Keaton) wants to get her youngest daughter Milly (Mandy Moore) hitched, so she puts a profile on a website where moms can choose men for their daughters. She selects cultured architect Jason (Tom Everett Scott) but ragtag musician Johnny (Gabriel Macht) weasels in on her auditions and meets Milly against mom's wishes. Who will Milly choose, and can either relationship survive Daphne's interference?
In the beginning, everyone is trying way too hard to be cute. Daphne complaining about using the word cheese to take a picture and Milly doing her snorty laugh, come on. Diane, you're not in Seinfeld and Mandy, snorting was never cute. Sandra Bullock got a pass but not with me.
These sorts of things keep popping back in periodically, most notably when they force Mandy and the girls to sing, but once you get a little distance from the pandering, the movie kind of takes off. The idea of a love triangle via the mom is an inventive melding of romantic comedy tradition with familial observation.
The guys are fantastic. I wish I could be as smooth as either of them. Jason has it all going for him and plays her like one of Johnny's guitars. Johnny makes a perfect connection out of random situations. It's clear Jason's the bad guy because he's successful (success = evil) and he gets angry at Milly, but he's even a badass A-hole.
Actually, the scene in question is also questionable. They compare Jason lashing out when Milly breaks a family heirloom to Johnny being relaxed and comforting when she breaks a dish. Not the same thing, guys.
But anyway, except for the message that doing well makes you unlovable, it's easy to see why Milly fell for either guy. Gabriel Macht does a phenomenal acting job with the material he's given. He is so sympathetic in every scene of courtship, heartbreak or miscellaneous.
Mandy Moore plays her most mature character, including Entourage. Hey, she broke Vince's heart but they didn't have her talking about orgasms. Oh yeah. Keaton kind of feels like she's doing a variation on her thing. Maybe talking faster, prancing more but it just feels familiar. But when you're great, why change?
Even though Because I Said So is a female driven romantic comedy, they still find a way to make the guy come after her in the end. They really don't know how to end these things any other way. But, the relationships in the film actually feel natural and healthy, which is far more valuable than sophisticated comedy. We've got Vince Vaughn for that.