Something’s Gotta Give
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Nancy Meyers
with Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Amanda Peet, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Jon Favreau, Paul Michael Glaser, Marjie Gum, Kadee Strickland, Russ Russo, Nichole Hiltz, Jennifer Siebel
release US 12.Dec.03; UK 6.Feb.04
03/US 1h40

A walk on the beach: Nicholson and Keaton

keaton nicholson peet
reeves mcdormand favreau

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After the better-than-expected What Women Want, Meyers proves her filmmaking chops with this thoroughly engaging romantic comedy. Yes, it's a predictable story filmed in that slickly overproduced Hollywood way. But as both writer and director, she draws out subtle insight and remarkable moments of humour and emotion. Often both at the same time.

Notorious Manhattan womaniser Harry Sanborn (Nicholson) is looking forward to a weekend with new girlfriend Marin (Peet) in her palatial Hamptons beach house. What he's not prepared for is the arrival of Marin's mother Erica (Keaton). Especially since Erica is much closer to Harry's age than Marin is! The weekend is further interrupted when Harry has a heart attack and is forced to remain in Erica's care. And before they realise what's happening, both discover a surprising mutual attraction. But Harry has competition; his handsome young doctor (Reeves) is deeply attracted to Erica as well.

With a script this astute and witty, almost any cast could have made it work, but this is certainly not just any cast. Keaton is absolutely fantastic as a sexy middle-aged woman who's much more than a jittery bundle of nerves (although she's that too). She catches every emotion in her eyes, then echoes it throughout her entire body. This is such a perfect performance that you feel she was born to give it! Nicholson is at the peak of his powers too, maintaining that old-Jack grin while balancing it with a more interesting voyage of self-discovery that involves both broad physical humour and emotional resonance. Their scenes together spark with such raw authenticity that they take us aback--funny, moving, sharp and seemingly effortless. The supporting cast gets a bit of a short shrift, but they're wonderful in their brief scenes, especially Reeves, who's never been this sexy, charming and utterly truthful.

Meyers and her cast so thoroughly skewer notions of age and romance that hopefully movies will never be the same again. There's more chemistry between Nicholson and Keaton than in every 20-something rom-com made of the past five years put together! And even a contrived series of events can't undermine dialog this knowing and hilarious. Each scene peels back another layer to reveal the people underneath--people who've spent their lives carefully protecting their hearts from pain ... and joy as well. It's a remarkable film full of telling moments that make us laugh and think. Yes, Meyers chickens out in a few areas (most notably in dealing with sex and the whole mother-daughter thing), but when she starts examining two people who open up something in each other that they never expected to find, she strikes gold.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 12.Dec.03

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Laurie T, Minneapolis: 4/5 "I have learned that both Jack and Diane have been nominated as best actor and actress in the Golden Globe awards - and I won't argue with that. We both wanted to see this movie - and were not disappointed. It is an awesome treat! A must-see! And what else can I say - we truly loved this movie - treat yourself and go see it." (19.Dec.03)

Something's Gotta Give David Haviland, London: 3/5 "It’s refreshing to a December to December romance onscreen, even if the leads are unfeasibly attractive, and the film generates a lot of funny moments from the premise, such as when Erica has to take Harry’s blood pressure before sex. Nicholson and Keaton are utterly charming, and you can see why their chemistry has led to rumours of romance, and even marriage, although the pair claim to be just good friends. Another appealing aspect is the way the film steers clear of clichés. Harry and Erica flirt and coo like children, and research each other on the internet. They are the story’s most sexual and most desired characters; in this film the old people are chased rather than chaste. There’s nudity too, but unlike in About Schmidt, there’s nothing comic or brave about it. Keaton looks fantastic, to the extent that when Keanu Reeves’ charming doctor persistently pursues her we’re not in the least surprised." (28.Jan.04)

© 2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall