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Entertainment Weekly recently ran an article entitled "One For the Money" in which the authors highlighted the 25 most shameless paycheck-grabbing roles in film history. In the article, such big screen legends as Christopher Walken and Sir Ben Kingsley were lambasted for their occasional selfish willingness to settle for the "paycheck role." It's understandable that, since we're talking about millions of dollars here, actors feel compelled to pad their bankrolls a bit. I know I would.

Honorably absent from that list was the well-respected Diane Keaton, admired for choosing roles that best suit her well-rounded thespian abilities. However, it's important to note that the article ran a few weeks before the release of Because I Said So. Otherwise, Keaton would have fallen somewhere between Marlon Brando's money-grubbing $1.2 million per minute appearance as Jor-El in 1978's Superman, and silent film era superstar Buster Keaton's desperate turn alongside Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in 1965's Beach Blanket Bingo.

To be fair, it's appropriate to point out that Keaton actually maintains a teeny bit of integrity by giving her all in a truly disastrous film appropriately placed in the late-winter dead season. It's just everything else around her that doesn't live up to even the most meager of expectations. Weak direction, superficial characters, and a poor script that bears no semblance with reality, add up to a poor role decision Keaton would most certainly like to forget. It's as if she sensed the film's wobbly knees early on, and like a cornered boxer, began swinging and flailing with hopes of landing that big punch. She missed and fell into the ropes instead.

She's Daphne, an overbearing mother with three grown daughters, (Mandy Moore, Lauren Graham, and Piper Perabo), who meddles to the point of absurdity in the life of her youngest girl, Milly (Moore). Hoping to prevent Milly from ending up loveless like herself, Daphne enlists the help of an internet dating service to interview a gaggle of potential suitors for her unknowing daughter. The stereotypical losers are paraded through in an unfunny montage of toothless wonders, longhaired geeks, and mentally unstable psychotic freaks before Daphne finally settles upon a handsome architect named Jason (Tom Everett Scott). Daphne knows he's the one, so she arranges a "chance" meeting of Jason and Milly. But of course the third wheel, in the form of a handsome musician named Johnny (Gabriel Macht), who approached Daphne at the hotel bar during her dating auditions, must enter the picture to complicate matters. Before you can say "Courtney Love", Milly goes from a sweet, clean, innocent twenty-something, to one of the sluttiest femmes to grace a PG-13 movie, as she begins dating both men. "Seriously" dating both men if you know what I mean.

If I didn't know better, I'd think that Because I Said So was the debut effort of not only director Michael Lehmann, but also of writers Karen Leigh Hopkins and Jessie Nelson. The script is wrought with amateurish timeline oversights, characters that fail to summon even an ounce of sympathy, and it's really hard to believe that any of the film's dialogue is something that would actually be spoken in real life. Milly's dating habits not only seem atypical of what little we learn about her, but her relationships develop much faster than what we were shown. One minute she's meeting the men for the first time, and then in the next scene it's as if they're ready to discuss marriage. There's a way to let relationships breathe and grow on an audience, but for some reason, the filmmakers skip that part. Character magnetism and attraction are the most important attributes of a successful film of this genre, but here most are poorly cared for and some are brushed aside altogether (see Piper Perabo as Milly's sister, Mae). Keaton's Daphne is just too annoying and over-the-top to like. We got the point early on that she's an annoying "helicopter" mom that meddles too deeply in her daughters' lives, but enough is enough. There's not a daughter in the world that wouldn't have told her mom to butt-out long ago.

Because I Said So is forgettable chick-flick fluff at its best or worst I guess. Where shallow guy movies turn to flatulence humor and sight gags involving the female form to patronize an audience, chick flicks, like this one, utilize inappropriately saucy mother-daughter conversations about orgasms, and the problems created by having a wedding cake overturned onto your new tweed blouse. I suppose such shenanigans can work if given enough other good things around it, but the aforementioned wasted cake is about the only character we truly care for.

I'm certain there's an Entertainment Weekly editor out there somewhere slapping his forehead for not holding off a few weeks on the article covering the top 25 "paycheck" roles, because Diane Keaton's hammy performance in Because I Said So deserves a place on that list more than Sean Connery as James Bond in Never Say Never Again who came in at number 25.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.

* Featurette
o Making of
o Costumes and Production Design
* Commercial - for iVillage
* Music Video - World Spins Madly On

Number of discs: - 1 - Keepcase packaging

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