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It Goes To Senior Day Care

Death is coming for you. But first it will take your spouse. And how will you grieve? In this, the latest Baby Boomer Bait from the former zeitgeist-tapping Rob Reiner, the answer depends on gender. If you are male you will become a predictably boring old crank. You’ll hate the computers and all the new music, you’ll blithely spout casually racist remarks, you’ll think “Complain to the manager” is still a witty retort, and when the mood strikes you you’ll try to force your affections on the nearest woman close to your age and she ought to be grateful, dammit. If you’re a woman mourning the loss of a partner then the path is simpler; you will ramble when you speak and you will cry a lot.

The widower (Michael Douglas) and the widow (Diane Keaton) meet, then, and fall into mutual disdain, as they must, for exactly one act of this snoringly dull rom-com. Then, on cue, they begin sniffing around the possibility of Viagra sex as he actively changes his cantankerous ways. And boy, does he change. He takes care of his imprisoned son’s little daughter (the mother is an active and, at times, unintentionally hilarious heroin addict, while the remarkably unscathed child displays not one single outward sign of trauma). He secures Keaton a supper club singing gig for head-scratchingly big money (she is thin of voice and weird of patter). He delivers a baby for neighbors he hates and who dislike him in return. He learns how to use "www.Facebook.com." And why the sudden change of heart and mind> Well, why not? So have sex with him, Diane Keaton, hasn't he earned that privilege?

There’s nothing inherently wrong in walking down a well-worn path; there's no rule that a director can’t pick up tired tropes of aging and exhausted cliché about near-geriatric romance and breathe fresh comedic life into them. In fact, it would be welcome if someone would; it’s not like intelligent films, dramatic or comedic, about people over 60 are clogging the nations multiplexes. But does Rob Reiner have to be the guy to do it and then choose to churn it out this lazily?

It's an equally exhausted complaint, but it bears repeating over and over: this is the filmmaker who gave us When Harry Met Sally and This Is Spinal Tap. We will always want better from him because we’ve seen better. To watch him wheeze through a narratively and emotionally tone-deaf mess, one that has no idea what it really wants to say but keeps on talking anyway, all the while displaying embarrassing levels of cluelessness, is more than irritating; it's dispiriting. Old filmmakers are not biologically mandated to shrink into the shadows of irrelevance. They shouldn't. But when they do there's no good way to grieve that sort of loss.


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