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Film review: Avoid this ‘Because I Said So’

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BECAUSE I SAID SO — * 1/2 — Diane Keaton, Mandy Moore, Gabriel Macht; rated PG-13 (vulgarity, sex, profanity, slapstick violence).

Though it is being touted as a romantic comedy, "Because I Said So" fails miserably as either romance or comedy.

In fact, it's hard to say which aspect of the film is done more miserably. But it's safe to say that it wastes the talents of a good cast — one that definitely deserves better than this.

"Because I Said So" probably wouldn't seem quite as wretched if it weren't so sex-obsessed. The second half is dominated by talk of the female characters' sexual desires — and some of it is surprisingly graphic.

The title refers to a phrase often uttered by Daphne (Diane Keaton), a family matriarch so domineering that she puts the "mother" in "smothering."

Daphne has already meddled in the lives of her older, married daughters (Lauren Graham and Piper Perabo), and now she's intent on doing the same to her youngest, lovelorn caterer Milly (Mandy Moore).

Unbeknownst to Milly, Daphne has even placed an online personal ad so she can choose her daughter's next boyfriend. And she thinks she's found him in Jason (Tom Everett Scott), a wealthy architect.

But these dating "auditions" also draw the attention of an unwanted suitor — at least in Daphne's eyes. He's a musician named Johnny (Gabriel Macht), who Daphne thinks is just another heartbreaker.

These cookie-cutter characters could have been created while screenwriters Karen Leigh Hopkins and Jessie Nelson were watching "Sex in the City" (at times the film is as smutty as that program).

And everyone is so dishonest and duplicitous in his or her dealings that they're downright unlikable. Which puts a terrible burden on Keaton and Moore, who can't make us care about this mother-daughter duo. (At least supporting players Graham, Perabo and Tony Hale escape relatively unscathed, since they're given so little to do.)

"Because I Said So" is rated PG-13 for crude sexual humor and references, simulated sex and other sexual contact, scattered profanity, slapstick violence (various pratfalls) and some revealing women's undergarments. Running time: 102 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com