Because I Said So 

One and a half stars (PG-13)

What in the world prompted Diane Keaton to sign up for an annoyingly clichéd feature-length sitcom like Because I Said So? Did one of the producers save the life of someone in her family? Was she being blackmailed? Did the director hypnotize her? It can’t have been because she was drawn to the script, because the writing is lame on the level of a typical episode of According to Jim.

This is one of those movies where someone says or does something comical, odd or stupid and the camera cuts to a reaction shot from the family dog. This is one of those films where a little kid walks up to a stranger and says, “I’ve got a penis and you’ve got a wagina” (yes, “wagina”) and we’re supposed to giggle (the writers liked that bit so much, by the way, that they use it twice). This is one of those films where the women display their unbreakable girl-power bond by singing a golden oldie together.

Really, what is someone of Diane Keaton’s caliber doing in this movie? Or Mandy Moore, Piper Perabo and Gilmore Girl Lauren Graham, for that matter? Or 7th Heaven star Stephan Collins, Gabriel Macht and Tom Everett Scott? Wait a second — actually, I understand what Tom Everett Scott is doing in this movie. I mean, he starred in An American Werewolf in Paris, a clear indication that he has problems saying no to anything.

Keaton stars as Daphne, meddlesome mother of Milly (Moore), Maggie (Graham) and Mae (Perabo). The character is a horror, but over the years Keaton has taken a number of potentially grating characters and made them shine. Not here, though. As played by Keaton in what may be the worst performance of her long, mostly wonderful career, Daphne is simply an insufferable pain in the ass. It’s easy to understand why a grown woman would act this way, though, since her girls just roll their eyes as she persists in doing things that would drive most daughters to matricide.

Like putting an ad in an online personals Web site looking for a man suitable to court her unattached daughter Maggie. Daphne interviews the respondees in some nightclub, where Johnny (Macht), the guitarist in the house band, strikes up a conversation with her. After the obligatory montage of losers, a juicy prospect named Jason (Scott) shows up and Mom starts some heavy-duty manipulating.

You haven’t seen the movie, but I bet you can re-read the last paragraph and tell me who Maggie will end up with.

Bad sit-com hijinks ensue. Aside from Keaton’s groan-inducing work, not much else stands out in the acting department, although Gabriel Macht is agreeably down-to-earth as Johnny the guitarist. Best performance honors go to Stephen Collins, who is charming as Johnny’s father Joe.

I’ve seen many films worse than Because I Said So, but few that were as annoying. Watching talented people waste their time with hackneyed material is frustrating. Wasting my time watching it is infuriating.


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