Oren Little (played by Michael Douglas) is trying to sell his house. It’s a grand mansion, in a beautiful town on sprawling marvellous grounds. It used to be his home, until his dear wife died a couple of years ago after a battle with cancer. Now he can’t bear to be there. As a real estate agent, he knows the market, so he’s holding out for the best price he can get. These days he lives in a small holiday home nearby and exists for his own purposes. He’s become self-centred and gruff towards the outside world – he’s not strong on tact and doesn’t think about others’ feelings in the slightest. Most people have lost their patience with him and think he’s just a grouchy old so-and-so. As soon as his house is sold, he’s moving to a quiet part of Vermont to retire – and that can’t come soon enough. One day out of the blue, he’s suddenly saddled with Sarah (by Sterling Jerins) – his 9 year old granddaughter that he never knew he had. Now what’s he supposed to do? He relies on the goodwill of his tiresome neighbour, Leah (by Diane Keaton), who thankfully has a sensitive and loving nature, so she takes Sarah under her wing. Through his interactions with both Leah and Sarah, the world suddenly comes back into focus for Oren as he realises that there’s still some sweetness in life and some happiness to experience.
I didn’t have high hopes for this movie. I’d seen reviews that it was completely awful – but I was very pleasantly surprised. The mood is as relaxed as the setting – a lovely holiday town with a great lifestyle and beautiful properties. Oren Little is not a very nice person and Michael Douglas depicts him well. Diane Keaton’s character is sweet and kind-hearted – this fits well with Diane’s performance – but to hear her sing for the first time is a revelation to me – who knew? She’s a very enjoyable singer. It’s interesting – I’m not sure if it’s by design or by luck – but to watch Michael Douglas’ wardrobe, style and look get progressively more appealing – he gets well groomed, stylish and somehow younger looking as his character warms up and becomes more pleasant … I guess this is part of the Director’s plan. Some have said that Rob Reiner’s appearance in the movie is a mistake and he’s just awful, but I think that’s the idea – his character, Artie, is cringe-worthy, yes, but that’s appropriate for the story. There are two gems in this too – first, Frances Sternhagen’s character, Claire, is a breath of fresh air – she pulls no punches with Oren; second – the cameo by Frankie Valli – that’s almost uncredited, but still great to see. Overall, this is an enjoyable, sweet movie.
Made in 2014. Directed by Rob Reiner