Something's Gotta Give

on December 12, 2003 by Sheri Linden
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It's great to see Diane Keaton starring on the big screen again, but even her lovely performance can't rescue "Something's Gotta Give" from its heavy-handedness. Nancy Meyers' film all but shouts "Older women are sexy too!"--and while that's a point well taken, it's taken repeatedly. Keaton and leading man Jack Nicholson--playing a movie-mild version of his playboy self--have some fine comic business, separately and together, and there are sharp instances of the Venus-Mars disconnect regarding matters of commitment. But more often than not the script spells out what's going on rather than let it happen.

Every step on the bumpy road to romance between fiftysomething playwright Erica and 63-year-old Harry, a music-biz mogul and devotee of young women ("I've been dating them for over 40 years"), is so transparently telescoped that there's no doubt about the story's outcome. The action takes place mainly in and around Erica's Hamptons dream house, where thinly contrived circumstances place Harry while he recovers from a heart attack. He's been dating (but not yet sleeping with) Erica's daughter (Amanda Peet), who conveniently returns to her job in Manhattan, along with Harry's cabal of assistants. When she sees the sparks between Mom and Harry, she just as conveniently breaks up with him. While Erica and Harry do their mating dance, his young doctor (Keanu Reeves) avidly courts Erica.

Reeves does smitten well, though it might require a leap of faith to believe he's a man of medicine. Frances McDormand lends typically fine support as Erica's sister, even while voicing the film's central argument in an allegedly funny dinner-table tirade. Most of the humor is obvious and far more tame than the self-congratulatory script would have us believe, although Keaton and Nicholson, who both bare some skin, deliver masterful physical shtick. For all the film's realistic observations, Harry's conversion is too insistently mapped out for it to ring true. And Meyers uses a few too many getting-to-know-you scenes in which Hans Zimmer's schmaltzy music drowns out the dialogue of couples laughing across their glasses of wine. Starring Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau and Paul Michael Glaser. Directed and written by Nancy Meyers. Produced by Nancy Meyers and Bruce A. Block. A Columbia release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and strong language. Running time: 123 min

Tags: Starring Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau and Paul Michael Glaser. Directed and written by Nancy Meyers, Produced by Nancy Meyers, Bruce A. Block, Columbia, Romantic comedy
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