Diane Keaton's overbearing mother does a disservice to the legacy of Annie Hall

Because I Said So

on February 02, 2007 by Tim Cogshell
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The line between hysterical and hysterics is a thin one, and, although it has its funny moments, for the most part the tone and timbre of Because I Said So falls soundly on the wrong side. The incessant banter of the characters in this movie is verbiage without wit or reason, and its physical comedy verges on slapstick. And yet these are not its most significant irritations.

The venerable Diane Keaton stars as Daphne, the matriarch of the Wilder clan. Her daughters Maggie (Lauren Graham), Mae (Piper Perabo) and Milly (Mandy Moore) were each ostensibly raised by their long-single mother to be independent contemporary professional women. This notion, however, does not fit the actual narrative of a movie that has as its principle theme the marrying off of each of these young woman to the man of Daphne's dreams. The youngest Wilder daughter, the insecure and overly apologetic Milly, has yet to find the apparently necessary mate, and thus Daphne takes it upon herself to correct the “problem with Milly.”

This fundamental inconsistency has been the bane of most romantic comedies for a very long time. On one hand, the filmmakers go to great pains to establish an independent feminine imperative, while on the other these same women behave like husband-seeking marriage missiles, hell-bent on wrangling “the right” guy to the altar, their mothers cajoling them every step of he way.

Here, Keaton's hysterics about the relational circumstances of Milly are positively Old World. She places a personal ad on Milly's behalf and clandestinely picks a rich and handsome man, Jason (Tom Everett Scott), for her. Milly, of course, falls for a different guy, the handsome, tattooed, guitar-playing single father, Johnny (Gabriel Macht).

Ironically, at one time Keaton was at the center of infinitely more sophisticated romantically inclined comedies that featured women who were the sort of characters in movies like this are meant to be. The title character of Annie Hall and Mary Wilkie ( Manhattan ) were, whatever their quirks, not husband-hunting. They were instead looking for what they really wanted in a relationship — satisfaction and communion — rather than a relationship for its own sake. Indeed, it was the fellas (often Woody Allen) in these movies who were the neurotics in search of a permanent better half.

Some 30 years on, it's odd to see Keaton—still playing the twitchy waif—nosing her way into the lives of daughters to guide them toward the proper (read: rich and handsome) man, because, apparently, this is the thing that completes an independent woman's life. It's nonsensical, but one wonders if most contemporary women, or men for that matter, will note this irony. That notwithstanding, the outfits are really cute.

Distributor: Universal
Cast: Diane Keaton, Mandy Moore, Gabriel Macht, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo and Stephen Collins
Director: Michael Lehmann
Screenwriters: Karen Leigh Hopkins & Jessie Nelson
Producers: Paul Brooks and Jessie Nelson
Genre: Romantic comedy
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content including dialogue, some mature thematic material and partial nudity
Running time: 102 min.
Release date: February 2, 2007

Tags: Diane Keaton, Mandy Moore, Gabriel Macht, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo and Stephen Collins Director: Michael Lehmann Screenwriters: Karen Leigh Hopkins, Jessie Nelson Producers, Paul Brooks, Jessie Nelson, Universal, Romantic comedy
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