Movie Review: Because I Said So

Melissa and I saw Because I Said So tonight, and the degree to which it’s a clunker is colossal.

On the surface, what’s not to like? Diane Keaton is the mother of daughters Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo and Mandy Moore. Lauren and Piper are married, but everybody worries about Mandy’s terrible luck with men. So mom decides to put a personal ad in the paper, looking for a suitable suitor for her daughter. The problem is, she doesn’t tell her daughter first. Cue ensuing drama and some funny ha ha.

Sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong. Because I Said So is a crude, heartless, humorless waste of big talent, spread out over a poorly paced 102 minutes. (Seriously, the editing is so bad and the pacing so off that it feels like it’s well over two hours long.)

I’m no prude, but I think there should be truth in advertising. This is a PG-13 that should definitely be an R because of its endless array of dumb sex talk. The trailer touts it as a sweet sister comedy, and I’m sure lots of moms were urged by their teenage daughters to please take them to see the movie with Mandy Moore and Lorelai Gilmore. I can imagine those moms being uncomfortable and maybe a little bit outraged when Mandy calls her mom and her sisters from the bedroom at her sister’s wedding and starts trying to describe the equipment of the guy she’s about to sleep with.

Again, I have no problem with crude humor if it’s funny. Nothing in this movie is funny, regardless of how hard it tries to be. Its humor falls as flat as its contrived, convoluted attempts at heart.

So Mandy ends up dating two guys. One of them is a rich jerk, and one of them is a musician who wears hats and has an obnoxious kid. (And his live-in uncle is the dad from 7th Heaven.) She’s in a serious relationship with both of them and she’s sleeping with both of them but neither knows about the other. And both of the guys are interested in her because of Diane’s behind-the-scenes machinations, so you know that’s going to end badly, too.

There’s one scene where Mandy and the rich jerk are sitting on his hillside condo’s balcony, facing away from the glorious view behind them. She starts yapping about how much she loves the view, but it’s not even like she’s looking at him when she says it. She’s looking at the wall. Okay. Then she knocks over and breaks a bowl or something that his grandmother had given him, and he gets all pissy with her. [Editor’s note: It was a candlestick holder. Thanks to Melissa for the tip.]

Then we cut to a scene of Mandy in the kitchen with the other guy she’s donking, the musician with the hats and the kid. They are making desserts and laughing and having a wonderful time, until the kid runs through the kitchen and knocks the bowl out of Mandy’s hands and it breaks. Musician goes to great lengths to assure her that it’s no big deal, it’s just a bowl, etc. He’s entirely sweet and charming and nice about it and reminds her that it wasn’t her fault anyway.

Then the scene suddenly changes gears and she’s flipping out about how she has to leave immediately, and he gets all grim and sad. “I know we’re having an off day,” he says. What? When? What the hell is “off” about it? And he goes on about how every couple has off days, and she’s sad because they’re having a bad day, but he says he said “off” day, not “bad” day, and it’s all ridiculous because just five seconds before they were laughing and giggling and baking desserts.

This was the point in the film where Melissa turned to me and asked, “What the hell just happened?”

“Damned if I know.”

It’s also the part in the movie where Melissa started sending text messages to Kristy Brown, our good friend in Texas who loves Mandy Moore movies. Here’s a transcript of their text message exchange:

Melissa: Mandy Moore sings in her new movie too! It’s like a movie and a concert rolled into one! P.S. The movie sucks. :)

Kristy: Haha. You know I’ll have to watch it anyway. What movie is it?

Melissa: Because I Said So. :(

Kristy: That looked like it was gonna be decent.

Melissa: It’s not. Right now Mandy is talking about how an orgasm feels with Diane Keaton. She is writhing around and clenching her teeth.

Kristy: Haha. Wow. I am surprised she didn’t describe it through song.

Yes, Mandy Moore sings in the movie. And I like Mandy Moore. I do. Her Coverage album is one of my favorite guilty pleasures (thanks in no small part to the whiz-bang production of John Fields). But when the sisters get together to sing at a family party, Mandy gives this knowing glance that says, “Oh yeah, I’m Mandy Moore and now I’m going to sing,” and it was so infuriating. I might not have minded if the rest of the film hadn’t been so dumb and trashy, but alas.

There’s some crude (though clothed) sex between Diane Keaton and 7th Heaven dad, and several scenes where the big running joke is that Diane Keaton’s computer is making sex site sounds while she’s on the phone and her dog starts humping furniture. Oh, the hilarity!

This is truly a terrible film, but it was fun to watch with Melissa because we kept talking and laughing about how awful it was. (Sorry, fellow film patrons, but you all know that our running commentary was far more entertaining than the movie. Don’t even deny it.) The pacing is weak, the plotting is worse and the unnecessarily crude humor falls flat.

But I do have to give big points to one of my favorite gals, Lauren Graham, for stealing all the scenes she’s in. Even the ones in which she isn’t speaking. And it was also really nice to see Lauren on a huge movie screen. More to love. Whammy!

Also, Lauren’s character is a psychiatrist, and her patient is played by Tony Hale of the late, great Arrested Development. Having Lorelai Gilmore and Buster Bluth in the same scene — however briefly — was worth the price of price of admission. I think.

Oh, well. And so it is. Big thanks to Melissa for helping me survive it, and big thanks to Kristy Brown for providing hilarity and moral support from afar.