Review by Dustin Putman
3 stars out of 4
When was the last time you saw a star-studded studio romantic comedy
in which both of the lead characters were over the age of 55? If you're
hard-pressed to muster up a single title from the last decade, then
you're not alone. Exquisitely written and directed by Nancy Meyers
(2000's "What Women Want"), "Something's Gotta Give" travels through
well-trodded territory, but it miraculously feels fresh because of
the ages of the characters, and the intriguing themes th at go along
with unexpectedly finding a soul mate post-menopause. It only helps
to have class acts Jack Nicholson (2002's "About Schmidt") and Diane
Keaton (2001's "Town & Country"), in her best performance in many
years, inhabiting such richly drawn roles.
At the age of 63, ladies' man Harry Langer (Jack Nicholson) has proudly
never slept with a woman over 30. When he goes with his latest girlfriend,
Marin (Amanda Peet), up to her family's supposedly empty Hamptons
estate for the weekend, they are surprised when her divorced 55-year-old
mother, successful playwriter Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), and aunt,
Zoe (Frances McDormand), come home to catch them in their underwear.
And when Harry suffers a sudden heart attack and is forced to stay
in the area while he recuperates, Erica finds herself forced into
the role of his caregiver. Eric a hasn't been in a relationship since
her marriage ended years ago, and as she and Harry find themselves
connecting on an unexpectedly deep level, Erica rediscovers a passion
in herself that she had long since given up on. Complicating matters
is Harry's recluctance to be monogomous, even though the best thing
he has ever known is right in front of him, and his young doctor,
Julian (Keanu Reeves), who is also attracted to Erica.
"Something's Gotta Give" is witty, smart, and charismatically electricthree
vital elements rare to find in most of today's romantic comedies.
Stealing the show is an irreverent Diane Keaton, who hasn't been this
impressive in a part since her Woody Allen heyday of the 1970s. Her
character of Erica is the foremost focal point of the story, and the
emotions she finds herself going through as she falls in love when
she least expects it are truthful and poignantly funny.
Erica's ultimate love scene with Harry is an undoubted highlight,
both sex y and appropriately imperfect as they fumble around in bed
trying to get a handle on each other. Their attempt the next morning
to read Erica's wristwatch as they squint with their faltering eyes
is real and funny. And in the way Erica goes through a relentless
crying stage soon after things cool down with Harry, baring her soul
in her play, Diane Keaton is downright hilarious, not just because
she is a skilled comedic actress, but because she has made Erica a
sympathetic, flesh and blood human being.
As Harry, Jack Nicholson is pitch-perfect in the kind of sarcastic
signature role he is famous for. At this point, Nicholson could probably
play Harry in his sleep (unlike his heartbreakingly understated role
in "About Schmidt"), but that doesn't make him any less good at what
he can do each time. The top-notch supporting cast includes Keanu
Reeves, breaking free from the humorless restaints of "The Matrix"
trilogy and really quite likable as the understanding, lovestruck
Julian; Amanda Peet (2003's "Identity"), natural as she brings multiple
layers to the somewhat thankless role of Marin; and the always entertaining
Frances McDormand (2000's "Almost Famous"), seen too little as Erica's
tell-it-like-it-is younger sister, Zoe.
"Something's Gotta Give" runs just over two hoursusually far too long
for a romantic comedyand it is a testament to the strong material
writer-director Nancy Meyers has cooked up for her actors that the
film never overstays its welcome. Its only misstep is an ending that
bypasses a potentially more emphatic conclusion for an obvious, predictable
ou tcome. Without giving things away, one has to wonder if the choice
Erica makes at the end is the right one, or just another setup for
disappointment. It is a small debit, indeed, in a motion picture as
consistently entertaining, soft-hearted, and emotionally satisfying
as "Something's Gotta Give." People over the age of fifty do have
sex lives, too, and Hollywood's acknowledgment of this fact was long overdue.
Copyright © 2003 Dustin Putman