Because I Said So


Diane Keaton as Daphne
Mandy Moore as Milly
Gabriel Macht as Johnny
Tom Everett Scott as Jason
Lauren Graham as Maggie
Piper Perabo as Mae
Stephen Collins as Joe
Ty Panitz as Lionel
Matt Champagne as Eli
Colin Ferguson as Derek
Tony Hale as Stuart

Daphne (Diane Keaton) is that over-bearing kind of film mother that everyone feels like they have, though in truth no mother could be as much of a nightmare as Daphne without having been committed at least once. Luckily for her, her youngest daughter Milly (Mandy Moore) is such a push over that she happily lets her mother dictate, or at least highly suggest, every facet of her life from whom she dates to the layout of her apartment (from their mutual love of cooking it seems possible she even chose her career for her).

It seems like it’s supposed to be a peon of sorts to motherhood, the enduring love that entails (and the enduring worry that goes along with that love), a love so strong that it inevitably drives its possessor somewhat batty. That’s what it seems like it’s supposed to be, anyway. But what it is, is muddled crap.

Not willing to trust her youngest, and only still single, daughter’s judgment of men and desperately afraid that Milly will make the same mistakes she did, Daphne (who has raised her three daughters alone since their father ran out years ago) places a personal ad to find just the right man to set up for Milly – all without Milly’s knowledge of course.

Nothing in this movie works. The drama is forced and unfocused, built around stilted scenes of supposedly emotional catharsis that, if you actually listen to what the characters are saying, is complete nonsense. The comedy, such as it is, isn’t much better, usually falling into slapstick for Keaton, which is not, to put it mildly, her strong suit.

It’s not entirely unrealistic, there are many, many people who act like this in real life, and it’s just as tiresome and pointless as it is in this movie. It would be forgivable if the film was trying to be representative of real life.

But it’s not.

It actually thinks it’s saying something important (or even comprehensible) about these characters. It doesn’t help that Daphne and Milly, especially Daphne, are cartoons. Everything about Daphne is over-the-top. Endearing flightiness has always been one of Keaton’s hallmarks, but she’s pushing it into overdrive here and it just doesn’t work.

The only time any of these characters resemble real people are when Daphne and all of her daughters are on screen together, particularly when engaging in unfettered sex talk. The only handful of genuine moments in the entire film come from these scenes, and almost all from Perabo. In fact, she and Lauren Graham as the two older sisters that have managed to more or less escape their mothers clutches are so much more interesting than Keaton or Moore that it seems a shame the film wasn’t about them instead.