SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE
Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) is a 63 year old playboy with a libido much younger than his years. During what was to have been a romantic weekend with his latest infatuation, Marin (Amanda Peet), at her mother's Hamptons beach house, Harry has a heart attack. Nursed reluctantly by Marin's mother, Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), a divorced New York playwright, Harry develops more heart pangs - the romantic kind - for Erica. However, when Harry hesitates, his charming 36 year old doctor (Keanu Reeves) starts to pursue Erica. And Harry, who has always had the world on a string, finds his life unravelling, his heart causing him more problems than a doctor can fix.
Review by Louise Keller:
A sophisticated and hilarious comedy of errors about mature love, Something’s Gotta Give offers wit, charm and an unexpected poignancy from acutely truthful observations. Writer, director, producer Nancy Meyers (What Women Want) gets the tone right of this battle of the sexes, with a script that has a balance of humour, pathos and chaos, making this emotional romp highly enjoyable.
Jack Nicholson is irresistible (‘Schmucks are people too’) as the serial wolf on the eternal prowl of the under-30 set, while Diane Keaton’s ‘beyond uptight’ divorced playwright with the turtle neck wardrobe epitomising her emotional state, strips down both emotionally and literally. Ah yes, Nicholson just has to give that devilishly charming smile coupled with the crinkling of his eyes, and we, like Amanda Peet’s Marin (‘wrong can be fun’) are putty in his hands.
The laughs are plentiful and we get not only a generous dose of wit, but some well-placed visual gags that will keep you chuckling for ages. From the set up to the execution, we are primed for the kill. We immediately understand how Harry’s life works, surrounded by young beauties with toothpaste smiles. We then see him through Erica and sister Zoe’s eyes (‘thank god they die before us; that’s the only break we get’) before Harry’s heart attack that becomes a life-changing event.
While the rather unbelievable Keanu Reeve love-interest sub-plot may require a leap of faith, it is refreshing to see two mature actors such as Nicholson and Keaton showing their age, and displaying the kind of intimacies that come from true insight. There are plenty of magical moments – the casual ‘sleepover pajama party’ in the middle of the night that turns out differently to what is expected and the overtly moving scene when tears are shed for the first time. Never mind that the film’s too long – the performances are all so good. Besides, there’s the romance of that Paris encounter when the snow is falling and love is all around. The closing rendition of La Vie En Rose may not be the most musical of vocal renditions, it would be true to say that Jack Nicholson’s singing voice is filled with as much emotion and pathos as his performance.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Highly entertaining, for the first two thirds, anyway, Something’s Gotta Give is basically an old fashioned romantic comedy wrapped up in contemporary references. Everyone’s beautifully groomed, the clothes are stylish, the homes all tidy and gorgeous, the settings dreamy …. What makes it unusual is its willingness to deal more or less honestly with lovers in their 60s (or close to it). Australians will quickly quip that our own Paul Cox has been there and done that (Innocence) but that was never a romantic comedy.
Nancy Meyers, who also wrote What Women Want and The Parent Trap, comes up with some sharply funny dialogue, even wit, and she only loses the tension in the final act as the story elongates beyond its premium. As the film begins, we fear that we’re going to get a Jack Nicholson retrospective, but that quickly gives way to some remarkable moments, scenes where he seems for the first time to open himself and reveal some of the real (and now wiser, older, matured) Jack, in the role of Harry.
There are nuances here that are quite arrestingly, disarmingly truthful – and some terrific physical comedy. Diane Keaton is equally remarkable as Erica, the divorced playwright resigned to living alone, unadmired, unwanted by men, until she finds herself pursued by two, at opposite ends of the age scale. This element is certain to entertain women and Keaton makes it entirely plausible – less so than Keanu Reeves as the younger lover, a 36 year old doctor who is one of the biggest fans of her work. This is the least developed aspect of the screenplay, and of the direction, but it doesn’t undermine the film’s overall effect. Amanda Peet is excellent as Marin, the catalyst, Erica’s daughter, the means by which Harry meets Erica.
All this business in the first act and second act work really well to get us in and to recognise that Meyers isn’t taking the cheap shots without also having something more interesting to say about the range of relationships she explores. Indeed, she could be criticised for trying to do too much; so Marin’s new husband pops up with baby already on the way after a six month time jump, and there is a bit of a let down as we emerge from the high drama of romantic tension as the would-be lovers spar. But there is enough to treasure in Nicholson and Keaton alone . . or rather, together… to warrant the time.
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SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE (M)
CAST: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Amanda Peet, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Jon Favreau, Nichole Hiltz
PRODUCER: Bruce A. Block, Suzanne McNeill Farwell, Nancy Meyers
DIRECTOR: Nancy Meyers
SCRIPT: Nancy Meyers
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Ballhaus
EDITOR: Joe Hutshing
MUSIC: Blake Neely
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Hutman
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 8, 2004
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