With two of her three daughters married off, single mom Daphne Wilde (Diane Keaton, "Something's Gotta Give") is determined to make sure her unlucky-in-love youngest, Milly (Mandy Moore, "American Dreamz," HBO's "Entourage" 2005), does not end up alone. Daphne puts out a personal ad and interviews young men until architect Jason (Tom Everett Scott, "That Thing You Do!") meets her requirements. Milly doesn't know the man she's excited about dating was set up by her mom and Daphne manipulates her daughter's choices with the age old logic of "Because I Said So."
And if 'because I said so' bears any weight, do not go see this movie. Director Michael Lehmann ("Heathers," "40 Days and 40 Nights") has sunk so low that he's allowed the Oscar winning Keaton to deliver a performance than can only be called an embarrassment and "Stepmom" scribes Karen Leigh Hopkins and Jessie Nelson serve up one lazy cliche after another. Only the naturally charming Mandy Moore and her charismatic pairing with Gabriel Macht save this film from complete and utter disaster.
When Daphne settles in at the Beverly Hilton lounge to interview the usual assortment of freakish losers, she attracts the amused attention of guitarist Johnny (Macht). But Johnny's disappointed with both Daphne's final choice as well as her rejection of himself as a candidate. The resourceful young man sneaks her daughter's card and lucks out with a meet cute as she arrives at her catering business in full static cling crisis. Daphne agrees to a date, but she's already made one with Jason and ends up seeing both men, one for her and one for mom. When Jason publicly proposes and Johnny calls an ultimatum, Milly freaks and loses them both. Of course it'll be up to mom, now in the throes of a romance with Johnny's uncle, Joe (Stephen Collins, TV's "7th Heaven"), to make things right again.
"Because I Said So's" biggest sin is that it treats its characters like idiots, with Keaton's Daphne leading the charge. Her titular refrain, which is only used about three times, is a common parental retort employed here as the quirkiest of character traits. Daphne is a woman who apparently makes her living by baking the occasional cake, most of which land on the sidewalk or in her face. She owns a PC which she apparently never uses because her foray onto dating sites lands her on porno pages which she needs to call 'Mr. Internet Support Man' to get off of (much to the chagrin of her golden lab who's been moved to hump her hassock). Even the film's costume designer makes Keaton look ridiculous which is no mean feat given that she's clothed in the actress's own style.
Daphne's three daughters engage in conference calling where they reveal the most intimate details of their sex lives, usually allowing mom to overhear, a practice doubly dubious. At least Moore acts like a real human being, even if she's unable to stand up for herself and has a way better than average singing voice. Moore has proven a gifted actress who rarely gets matched with the right material, although here, at least, she matched with two suitable costars. Macht has the appeal of a domesticated Johnny Depp as Johnny and Everett Scott is handsome and just vaguely hissable as mom's pick. Lauren Graham of TV's "Gilmore Girls" is a big screen natural as Milly's older psychiatrist sister but Piper Perabo ("Cheaper by the Dozen," "The Prestige") makes no impression whatsoever, an invisible middle sibling.
Production values are sub-par, with interiors both far-fetched for their inhabitants' incomes and fake in appearance. Cinematographer Julio Macat's ("Wedding Crashers") flat lighting and stodgy camera placements don't illuminate matters. Editors Paul Seydor ("Guess Who") and Troy Takaki ("Hitch") show an eye-rolling fondness for dog cutaways and a real ineptitude for musical montages.
"Because I Said So" is a fiasco that Moore and Macht's sizable efforts to save it prove beyond the call of duty.
Robin did not see this film.
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