Something’s Gotta Give

If ever there was a movie that could have dispensed with unnecessary voiceovers, Something’s Gotta Give is it. If ever there was a movie written to genre formula (in this case romantic comedy), this is the one. If ever a movie was 99% predictable, Something’s Gotta Give is a prime example of telescoped endings.

And yet…as popular entertainment, Something’s Gotta Give delivers. Writer/director Nancy Meyers needs to learn to edit her work rigorously; she tends to run off at the edges. But she has a good ear for dialogue, a good eye for physical schtick, and some thoughts worth sharing. Add all that to a skilled cast headed by Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, with Amanda Peet and Keanu Reeves tossed in for eye candy, and who’s gonna complain?

The premise: Young, gorgeous Marin Barry (Peet) is being romanced by 63-year-old man about town, Harry Langer (Nicholson), so she brings him to her mom’s house in the Hamptons, thinking they’ll have it to themselves. As they are about to consummate the dalliance, who shows up but mom (Erica, Keaton) along with her sister Zoe (Frances McDormand), a Women’s Studies professor. Suddenly, Langer has a heart attack; at the local hospital, he is treated by Dr. Julian Mercer (Reeves) who is attracted to Erica, which, of course, balances out the equation.

Mercer says that Langer will be okay, but should have a few days rest, so Langer ends up convalescing at Erica’s, where they find themselves attracted to each other. But Erica, a successful playwright, has been divorced for years and pretty much given up on rekindling a sex life and Langer sees all women over 35 as only slightly more appealing than curdled milk. Can Erica resist the appeal of the boytoy doctor and loosen up for a purveyor of hip hop? (Nicholson is in the record business.) Can Nicholson give up his predilection for women young enough to be his daughter and find real, committed romance with someone closer to his own age? Is there anybody out there reading this who cannot guess the ending right now?

Meyers gets in a lot of cute/funny material about aging bodies, Viagra, geriatric sex, hospital gowns, reading glasses and the like. Nicholson does Nicholson, but even better. Keaton has matured with charm; she’s dropped most of her signature, on screen mannerisms that had become tiresome, and her always pretty face now has grown beautiful with distinguished lines of middle-age.

Something’s Gotta Give is as light as a feather. It is fluff, but it’s an engaging and amusing escape into romantic comedy fantasy. And next to this season’s other romantic comedy offering, the dreadful Love, Actually, it comes off as positively Shakespearean.

Arthur Lazere

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San Francisco, CA
Mr. Lazere founded culturevulture.net in 1998 and worked tirelessly to promote its potential as a means for communicating a distinctly personal yet wide-ranging selection of arts reviews. Under his leadership, the site grew in esteem as well as in “circulation", and is well-regarded nationally and internationally as a source for up-to-date, well-written criticism. Arthur passed away on September 30, 2006.