I haven’t been out to a movie in months, which is unusual because it is my favorite past time. However, as a treat, my husband took my daughter and I to see the new movie “Because I Said So,” starring Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore.
I was not a big Diane Keaton fan in her heyday. At that time, practically every film she made was somehow attached to Woody Allen. However, I must admit that since her turn in “First Wives Club” a few years back, I have been converted. I particularly loved her roles in “Something’s Gotta Give” and “The Family Stone.” However, I have to say that she was equally adorable in this, her latest film.
This movie centers on Daphne Wilder (Keaton) and her three beloved – – and equally eccentric – – daughters (played by Mandy Moore, Lauren Graham, and Piper Perabo).
Oldest daughter, Maggie (Graham) is a psychologist who was obviously forced down that path by her ultra-controlling, albeit well-meaning mother. Mae (Perabo), the middle daughter, seems to always be high on something (mainly life in general). She is what they used to call (in the olden days) a real corker. The youngest, Milly (Moore) is pretty much a carbon copy of her mother; insecure, uncertain, and yet oh so determined.
While Daphne’s oldest two daughters are happily married, it seems that Milly just can’t find the right man. The harder she tries, the harder she falls. So mom decides it is time for her to take over and find a match for her daughter. She places a personal ad on the Internet, inviting men to compete for the right to date Maggie She sets up several interviews (17 to be exact). Most are disastrous.
Just as mom is about to give up, a musician at the restaurant, by the name of Johnny (played by Gabriel Macht), comes over to talk to her. He ends up suggesting that he might be the right guy for her daughter. She almost gives him a second thought until bachelor number 17 shows up for his interview. Jason (played by Tom Everett Scott) is an architect looking for a woman with which to settle down. Daphne decides he is perfect for her daughter and she sends the musician packing.
Johnny, however, isn’t one to be slighted so easily. He figures out a way to meet Milly on his own. Sure enough, they find an instant attraction. But then so do Milly and Jason. What ensues is fun, funny, and totally chaotic, making “Because I Said So” one of the sweetest romantic comedies I’ve seen in quite a while.
As you might guess, Daphne continues to do the wrong thing for all of the right reasons. And, in the mean time, she herself manages to meet the “wrong” guy and – – well I’m not going to tell you that. It would spoil all of the fun.
Screenwriters Karen Leigh Hopkins and Jessie Nelson have penned one of the sweetest and funniest family comedies I’ve ever seen. They hit the nail squarely on the head in the scene where Daphne tries valiantly to explain why it is difficult for a mother to butt out of her children’s’ lives. The wording is brilliant and so true that it would be hard for any mother not to identify. Another scene when mom asks her youngest daughter what it is like to have an orgasm is not only hilarious but touching on so many levels. That is just a few tidbits of this wonderfully creative and delightful script.
Director Michael Lehmann handles this versatile and talented cast with the skill of a fine technician. He tempers the wit, humor, and outright slapstick comedy with tenderness, compassion, and vulnerability. Yet, he still manages to maintain the necessary amounts of strength, dignity, and charm. This is not an easy task, but he does it with flair.
Keaton is luminous in this role. She literally beams with love and open concern for the happiness of her daughters. Although her actions are often ill placed and ill timed, one thing that is always certain. That is her respect and love for her children. They feel it and the audience believes it because it comes through the screen. She is perfectly cast in this type of part. It brings out all of Keaton’s best qualities.
Moore is adorable, delightful, charming, and downright impossible to ignore as Milly. I know that I have seen other movies of hers; “American Dreamz” being the most recent. However, I have never before considered her to be an unforgettable actress. I’m now rethinking that contention. She radiates off the screen, reaching through it to make you want to embrace her. That is rare and the sign of real star potential.
Scott is good in his role as the would-be fiancé. He is cute and charming, albeit a big arrogant and a little condescending. But then, that is exactly what his character is supposed to be.
I do not believe I’ve ever seen Macht in a movie role before. If so, I certainly do not remember him. However, I’d venture to guess that I won’t forget him anytime soon. He almost manages to match Moore’s on screen glow. He definitely has a presence that is difficult to ignore.
Graham and Perabo were equally delightful as Milly’s sisters. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve not seen a single episode of Graham’s hit television series “Gilmore Girls.” However, I’m thinking I might just catch it in syndication. I was impressed with this engaging young actress. Perabo is also wonderful in her role. She seems to be constantly changing and evolving which is a very good thing for any actor or actress.
I was also delighted to see the big-screen return of Stephen Collins as the father of one of Milly’s would-be suitors and a potential love match for Daphne. He still has the quirky charm that his legions of fans have loved for years, be it on the big or small screen (where his hit TV series “7th Heaven” has entered its 11th year).
With a strong screenplay, an excellent director, and a perfect cast this film should continue to do well when it moves to DVD later this year. This one, quite simply, is a keeper! I give it four and one-half out of five stars.
“Because I Said So” is from Universal Pictures in conjunction with Gold Circle Films. It is rated PG-13 for some sexual situations and it is 102 minutes in length.
Check your local theaters for locations and times.