Because I Said So
The last time I checked my genetic structure I took note of the fact that I have one ‘X’ and one ‘Y’ chromosome, hence male. Because of this I shouldn’t really enjoy so called ‘Chick flicks’ but due to circumstances I actually do like some of them. I married into a predominately female family. Between a wife, daughter, two sisters in law and a mother in law, testosterone is a pretty rare commodity. It also gives me some basis to understand the characters in Michael Lehmann’s latest flick, ‘Because I Said So’. This tale of an over involved mother with three daughters hit a few times with what I know about a three daughter family. While the film is a little over done at times it does have its moments. I have little doubt that this will wind up on a future Lifetime channel Mother’s day marathon. It is cut from a standard formula with only a splash of originality but considering the other viewing options lately are the summer action blockbusters this can offer some quality with the ladies in your life. For the women watching if you have a mother and a couple of sisters you will instantly identify with the characters presented here. The saving grace for this film is its stars which is able to make up for the predictable script.
The film opens with the wedding of Maggie (Lauren Graham), the eldest of three sisters. While a wedding is usually focused on the bride in this case the mother, Daphne (Diane Keaton) and middle sister Mae (Piper Perabo) are using the event as a trolling ground to find youngest sister Milly (Mandy Moore) a man. This objective is to be met whether or not Milly agrees. Like the terminator the eyes of the women seek out a bachelor off to the side. They gang up on Milly and scoot her off to make his acquaintance admonishing her not to let him hear her nasal laugh. Of course a mere matter of minutes into the conversation Milly snorts away. Even when Milly takes the initiative her luck in love is something not to be desired. At Mae’s wedding Milly sneaks off with man and calls her sisters when she is freaked out by his being uncircumcised. The point turns out to be somewhat moot when the sisters inform Milly that he is married. Daphne, widowed from a basically unhappy marriage has two daughters lead down the aisle and uses her ample free time to find a match for her youngest. Just about the only useful thing Milly received from her mother is a talent in gourmet cooking which Milly used to go into a catering business with her mom. Daphne seems to unconsciously resent that fact that her daughter is making a living on something she can do better and she started. There seems to be something of an internal conflict with Daphne who is torn between wanting to find a man for her last daughter and her inability to cut the apron string.
Daphne takes things far over the line making meddling an art form when she places an online ad stating "Mother looking for life partner for daughter". Now, only in a romantic comedy like this would any man even consider answering this ad. Since this is a film of this genre plenty of men do put aside the obvious mommy issues and respond. Daphne holds the auditions at a local restaurant and has to endure one loser after another. The guitar player at the restaurant, Johnny (Gabriel Macht), over hears the proceedings and wants to throw his hat in the ring for consideration. The combination of his fedora, vest and tattoos is a bit much for Daphne and she rejects him. When Daphne is distracted by the next candidate, an architect named Jason (Tom Everett Scott), Johnny palms one of Milly’s business cards. Daphne can’t be straight forward and tell Milly that she has been screener dates so she has Jason get his firm to hire their catering business so the pair can meet. Milly does start to date Jason but, to no one’s surprise, she also starts dating Johnny. Things get more complicated one night when Milly is out with Johnny. His father, Joe (Stephen Collins) comes over with Johnny’s son Lionel (Ty Panitz). Naturally, Daphne and Joe more than hit it off.
Michael Lehmann’s career was off on the fast track back in 1989 with the cult classic, ‘Heathers’. While he did go on to some episodes of great TV series like ‘The West Wing’, ‘Big Love’ and ‘Wonderfalls’, his film career has been hit or miss. With such films as ’40 Days and 40 Nights’ and ‘Airheads’ he still has talent for the romantic comedy genre. The thing is he does better with stories from the female perspective such as his ‘Truth About Cats and Dogs’. Here the script is mostly clichés but the way the film is presented helps a lot. The pacing is better than most of the genre with a story that moves along with no dead spots. There are some moments that I just can’t imagine my mother in law having with her unmarried daughter such as when Daphne asks Milly what an orgasm feels like.
What saves this film is the cast. The four leads represent some of the best talent in the genre around today. Diane Keaton has been entertaining audience for almost 40 years now and still has it. She is the consummate professional able to take the wackiest part and give it her best. In the scene where Daphne loses her voice the hand gestures that Keaton uses are overdone but funny. Her experience in comedy pulls things together. Lauren Graham is best know as one of the Gilmore Girls on the long running television series and uses that experience well here. Even though the character is completely different from her small screen persona Graham takes her character on as best she can. She is under utilized here which is a shame. Another actress that could have had more screen time is Piper Perabo. Her character is diminished to a sex crazy sister but she has the talent for so much more. The real gem here is Mandy Moore. Unlike other pop princesses she has taken smaller roles in less known pictures to hone her acting muscles. She has a natural manner to her that pulls the audience in. There is enough chemistry between the ladies of the film to go a long way. On the male side the gentlemen of the flick do well but this is ladies night.
Universal presents this film on DVD with their usual attention to detail. There is a Pan and Scan version of the film but even with a light comedy like this respect the director enough to see the whole film he made. The widescreen version has a brilliant color palette with realistic shades and great contrast. The Dolby 5.1 audio supports the sound track with flair. There are some extras also provided. The making of featurette shows Keaton as a mother figure off screen as she interacts with her younger co-stars. There is a design oriented featurette as well as the iVillage. Rounding things off is the music video World Spins Madly On By The Weepies. While not one of the great films of all time it does entertain even if it is predictable.