Oh Annie Hall, where are you when we need you?
Because I Said So is the new romantic comedy by Michael Lehmann, the director of 40 Days and 40 Nights and the perfectly named cult classic Heathers. It stars Diane Keaton (Annie Hall, The Family Stone) as Daphne Wilder, a single mother with an empty nest whose favorite activity is meddling in her daughters' lives. In an effort to prevent her daughter Milly (played by Mandy Moore), a caterer, from repeating the romantic mistakes of her past, Daphne secretly takes out a personal ad so she can handpick a boyfriend for her. Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls, Bad Santa) and Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly, Cheaper by the Dozen) round out the cast as Daphne's other long-suffering but devoted daughters.
Unfortunately, Daphne's master plan is turned on its head when one potential suitor of whom she disapproves decides to woo Milly anyway. Milly winds up torn between the man her mother thinks she should date and the man her heart really wants.
Because I Said So has all the elements of romantic comedy gold—pretty female leads, a love triangle, even a sexy “bad boy” musician named Johnny--is there any other kind? It does have the perfect perky tone and look that you want from this genre. Tom Everett Scott (Campus Man, That Thing You Do!) does a good job of playing a subtle jerk--the guy who isn't right for Milly because he just doesn't love her for her. And Gabriel Macht (The Good Shepherd) is definitely appealing as the diamond in the rough good guy who could be overlooked due to an untraditional exterior.
But Because I Said So also has a lot of problems. Important parts are glossed over. For example, how come Milly never addresses the issue of seriously dating and sleeping with two guys at once who don't know about each other? Scenes linger well past their welcome, until you are begging the director to yell "cut" in your head. The jokes are at best obvious, and waste Diane Keaton's ample talent. To see her bouncing around and taking increasingly pressured pratfalls is just a bummer. And why does she always sing in her movies? Am I missing something? Does everyone else gather around at family gatherings for a capella renditions of Motown and I've got the dysfunctional non-singing family? It perplexes me.
As for Mandy Moore, the gag where she talks too much is actually just annoying. And frankly, as much as I liked her in Scrubs and Saved!, her performance isn’t very good.
Ultimately Because I Said So isn’t very funny, and no amount of having Diane Keaton act all post-menopausally zany is going to create the tension that just isn’t there. It’s cute and it tries hard, but for my money, if you’re in the market for a good Valentine’s Day movie, I’d keep looking.