To judge from the level of insight into the mother-daughter dynamic and/or the relative proficiency in turning out a decent script, the women who co-wrote BECAUSE I SAID SO might have been raised by iguanas. This sad spectacle degrades everyone participating in it, including the audience hornswaggled into thinking that it was going to get some return on its investment of time and money.
The premise, a meddling mother, Daphne (Diane Keaton), trying to find Mr. Right for her youngest daughter, Millie (Mandy Moore), and finding Mr. Wrong, isn’t particularly innovative. It is, however, stretched paper thin with allegiance to consistency is getting through the uniformly unfunny joke at hand. If any of those jokes were even mildly amusing, that wouldn’t be such a problem, but the word that most accurately describes the effort at hilarity is strained, and that’s when the jokes work at all.
Daphne places a personal ad online that, with its wording, length, general tone, and headline (mother seeks life partner for her daughter) would be enough to set off warning bells for any reasonably sane, reasonably suitable guy. Naturally there follows thecharacters whose only montage of losers who show up for the interview portion of the process, the most engaging of which brings his ventriloquist’s dummy along. Further naturally, Mr. Right (Tom Everett Scott), at least Daphne’s idea of such, turns up. He’s handsome, successful, and when asked why he needs help finding a significant other, he pleads being a workaholic what with his own architecture firm. Daphne is smitten by proxy. When the guitar player (Gabriel Macht) at the hotel bar where Daphne conducts her interviews pleads his case, further, further naturally he’s rejected by her for being too flaky. Nothing whatsoever is made of the irony of all this. And nothing that happens next comes as any surprise, except the part about the unexpected kid with the unspecified disorder that drove his mother away. From the looks of it, his only problem is being hopped up on sugar or some other stimulant. Not that it matters.
Daphne has two other daughters, Lauren Graham looking as though she is about to wince at having to deliver her dreck lines and Piper Perabo who breezes along with a detached insouciance that may be an exercise is career self-preservation. They are there as sounding boards and to sing dubious quartets with their mother and sibling for no readily apparent reason other than it’s a new way to annoy the audience. Would that that were the worst. That would be a toss-up between the girls worrying over their mother’s underwear’s lack of sex appeal, discussing with colorful metaphors the relative merits of an uncircumcised partner, and the sex information chat between Daphne and Millie wherein way too much information is shared. Way too much. At least, as my friend Gloria put it so pithily, Daphne was suffering from laryngitis at this point in the film and being forced to write everything down rather that chirp it out offered a brief respite from just how annoying a chirp can be.
Once all attempts at humor have fizzled, BECAUSE I SAID SO goes all syrupy sentiment, the kind that chokes going down and leaves a bad aftertaste. Keaton and Moore both make magnificent efforts, but the former is a pale echo of her Annie Hall incarnation, and the latter is defeated at every turn by a script that foundered on page two, and had nowhere to go but down. Dragging the rest of us to the abyss with it.