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BECAUSE I SAID SO (article first published : 2007-04-5)

With an attractive cast headed by Diane Keaton and direction by Michael Lehman, who gave us the 80s black comedy Heathers, this new romantic comedy Because I Said So held a lot of promise. Sadly, it emerges instead as a huge disappointment.

The plot is predictable, the script clichéd and devoid of real charm, the dialogue fake and the humour invariably so weak, the whole affair so carefully contrived for cuteness and sentiment, the film raises only an occasional half-smile.

And, to make matters worse, the usually excellent Keaton is so ridiculously over the top, so manic at times, she's almost embarrassing. She plays Daphne Wilder, a whoppingly overprotective and overbearing, if stylish, woman who single-handedly raised three daughters to adulthood and now can't bring herself to snip the apron-strings.

She has no real problems with Maggie (Lauren Graham) and Mae (Piper Perabo), both married and content. But her youngest daughter, Milly (Mandy Moore), has her very worried, for in spite of being vivacious, attractive and a talented chef with her own catering company, Mr Right seems to be passing her by.

Afraid Milly might end up single like her, the meddling and manipulative Daphne takes it upon herself to place an ad on the internet and canvas possible boyfriends, settling on a successful architect, Jason (Tom Everett Scott).

He meets Milly and things go well, until the young woman gets to meet and start a relationship with charming, easy-going musician Johnny (Gabriel Macht), whom Daphne also met during her canvassing sessions but crossed off as not quite suitable.

The rest of the film is then spent with Milly facing a choice between two different but loving men and all the time trying to tolerate her increasingly irritating mother, who has to learn to chill out and butt out.

Besides Keaton's excesses, performances are generally commendable, with Moore showing herself as a good choice for future romantic comedies and the handsome Mascht sure to prove popular with the ladies.

But poor Graham and Perabo have very little screen time, which is a waste, and too much emphasis is put on slapstick humour that includes Keaton kicking in her car's navigation unit and three scenes - yes, three - involving cakes in the face.

Also featuring Stephen Collins, as Johnny's father, Because I Said So, written by the team that gave us Stepmom, is a made-to-order "chick flick" with a lot of gloss. But little heart, little soul and no wit or invention. Rating 4/10 – Billy Suter




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