Something’s Gotta Give
April 12, 2002
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Frances McDormand, Keanu Reeves, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau, Paul Michael Glaser, Rachel Ticotin, Marjie Gum, Kadee Strickland, Jennifer Siebel, John H. Tobin, Audrey Wasilewski, Russ Russo, Patrick Fischler, ,
Something’s Gotta Give is what I call a proper romantic comedy. It’s unabashedly romantic without feeling the urge to descend into mawkish sentimentality. It’s also very funny but cleverly written so not just reliant on comic set pieces. An abundance of witty repertoire and genuine chemistry between the actors leads to a satisfying package. It also tackles issue of age, insecurity, and May-December romances with gusto and a no-nonsense attitude.
One could never accuse Jack Nicholson of being afraid to send himself up. He plays Harry Sanborn an aging record mogul who is currently wooing young-enough-to-be-his-granddaughter Amanda Peet. She takes him out to the Hamptons for a naughty weekend unaware that her playwright mother Erica Barry (Keaton) and her sister (Frances McDormand) are also staying at the house. Following a seriously awkward introduction the four decide to share the weekend leading to the kind of dinner party interrogation that gives Harry a blocked artery. He’s whisked to the local hospital and looked after by a dashing young doctor (Reeves). The doctor, it transpires, is a big fan of Erica’s and promptly asks her out on a date. She, of course, is completely dumbfounded that someone as young as he would show an interest and just when it looks like it may be her that is the December in the May-December scenario, Harry ends up a patient at her house with her playing nurse maid.
Erica is busily working on a new play while he is simply waiting until he can climb a set of stairs. If successful it’s back to popping viagra and bedding bimbos. Eventually they realize they have more than they think in common and he, through flirtation, paying her attention and making her feel sexy and funny, brings out the passion that she buried deep away. In these scenes both characters develop before your eyes and a real and touching romance flourishes.
Of course it’s all going to go horribly wrong for as much as Harry is attracted to Erica and enjoys her company he is still a playboy at heart. This is where the movie takes on some real emotional depth and both Nicholson and Keaton rise to the material superbly.
What’s nice in the relationship between Harry & Erica is that it’s plausible. In this type of movie lead characters can often be too broad and one-dimensional. They are capable of hating then falling in love or one will start off loathsome then be redeemed by love. It is a credit to Meyers and the skill of Nicholson and Keaton that this never happens. Both characters are three-dimensional and their good and bad points are duly acknowledged throughout the course of the film.
Keaton hasn’t been this good in years. Her ‘la de da’ routine still surfaces now and again but she fleshes out the person beneath the mannerisms to reveal a sexy, witty, charming and vulnerable lady. Keaton has the ability to reduce you to tears of both sadness and laughter and with Nicholson creates a charming chemistry that is genuinely sexy. Jack is of course, Jack gamely toying with his own image and still an absolute pleasure to watch. Reeves is really rather good here (in fact the best he’s been since…well forever) while McDormand is highly amusing in her few scenes.
Although it’s safe to say that proceedings could have been trimmed down by a good ten or twenty minutes this is still the most fun I’ve had at the cinema in a long while. Something’s Gotta Give is Something Kinda Special.