Because I Said So

“Because I Said So” is such a dreadful, aggravating comedy that it will make you loathe the special bond between mothers and daughters. Witnessing Diane Keaton’s spastic performance is a 2007 low point, and she drags this whole misbegotten mess down with her.  It’s not like director Michael Lehman was on top of a wonderful career (recent output: “My Giant,” “40 Days and 40 Nights”), but “Because I Said So” reeks of a desperate filmmaker who needs a paycheck fast. It’ll make your head spin to recall that this is the same man who, in 1989, gave the world the cult classic “Heathers.” Where’s J.D. when you need him?

Daphne (Diane Keaton) is the domineering mother of three daughters (Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo and Mandy Moore), and deeply concerned about the romantic welfare of her youngest, Milly (Moore). Placing a personal ad for her child online, Daphne attracts the attention of two suitors who immediately take to Milly: one a rich architect (Tom Everett Scott) and the other a bohemian musician (Gabriel Macht). While Milly struggles to find her perfect match, Daphne comes to the realization that her own love life is in a shambles.

While “Because” might appear to examine the complex relationship between a mother and daughter, I assure you, this film has no interest in reality. It’s meant more as a sitcom stab at obvious targets with obvious actors giving obvious performances. “Because” gives “chick flicks” a bad name the way it carries itself; so proud of it’s bottom-feeding nature, and so assured that target demo is going to lap up every morsel. Instead of strengthening and exploring familial bonds, “Because” ends up a joyless, patronizing, and obnoxious 100-minute-long commercial for matricide.

Whatever heartfelt intent was in the screenplay during development has been flattened and steam cleaned by Lehman’s direction. Here’s a checklist of offenses: we have some cutaway dog reactions to human tomfoolery, Keaton pushed into a sheet cake, Daphne and her daughters performing not one, but two songs, and Milly walking in on sex between Daphne and her beau (Stephen Collins). “Heathers,” people… from the same guy who made “Heathers.’

If the direction doesn’t have you begging for mercy, the performances will. Thank goodness for the light supporting work from Graham and Collins (two great actors slumming big time here), otherwise “Because” would be completely insufferable. Keaton and Moore are engaged in a heated 100-yeard-dash for the most “actory” performance, busting out their acting bells and whistles to a degree where the film starts to resemble a Mummenschanz matinee performance. While Moore’s efforts can be brushed aside simply because she lacks soul in her screen work, Keaton should know better. This is the actress at the most fussbudget I’ve ever seen her; it’s as though someone snapped her with a rubber band before each take.

Hilariously, Lehman wants the audience to fall for these two wildly gesticulating morons. All I could think about during the screening was the ways I would personally shut them up if I could “Sherlock Jr.” my way into the film.

As if this picture wasn’t already miles outside the realm of the real, here’s a scene straight from another planet: Daphne, in a blessedly quiet scene due to a case of slapstick laryngitis, “accidentally” asks Milly what an orgasm feels like. Perhaps being of the opposite sex precludes me from even entertaining the thought that the scene lacks realism. Still, I feel assured that at least 99% of the planet’s daughters would sooner kiss a wookie than describe to their mother the ins and outs of climaxing.

Rating: D-