|SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE (2003)|
Paul Michael Glaser
|"I can't decide if you hate me or are the only person who ever really got me."|
|Time: 117 mins.|
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Academy Award nomination for Best Actress (Keaton).
Diane Keaton fans rejoice! She’s back and she’s smarter, sexier and funnier than ever. As we all know there aren’t many films made that deal with life after 40, however, after the success of this one, I think that may start to change. Of course, if older women want to see their lives reflected in the world of entertainment, they’re going to have to start picking up the pens as Meyers has done here. Sure, she probably needed the power of Nicholson to get this film made, but Keaton is the star of this production, outshining everyone else onscreen. She plays Erica Barry, a successful playwright forced to take care of her daughter’s ailing 63-year-old playboy boyfriend after he has a heart attack at her beach house. In the midst of writing her next play, she doesn’t have the time nor the inclination to play nursemaid to Harry (Nicholson), a man whose immature lifestyle disgusts her, but she’s left with no choice. He’s not exactly thrilled with the set-up either, however, his weakened physical condition decides the matter for them. Harry’s never been around a woman like Erica, having exclusively dated 20-year-olds for his entire adult life. They’re energetic and uncomplicated, yet after spending time with Erica he discovers what he’s been missing by never settling down into a relationship: true love.
For her part, Erica finds Harry’s wit, intelligence and charm irresistible as well, and rediscovers that her romantic life didn’t have to end with her divorce. She opens her mind to the possibility of love and in the end gets more than she bargained for. Since they form an instant onscreen connection, there’s never any doubt that these two are destined to be together. How they finally bridge the gap is clever, witty and downright enchanting. Meyers allows both characters to be true to their natures while still being able to fall head over heels for each other. This sequence is touching, sweet and the best part of the film. Their return to the reality of their lives plays out fairly predictably as Harry retreats to his former lifestyle, being unwilling to upset his once perfect life as New York’s premiere bachelor. He knows he found something magical with Erica, he just doesn’t have the faintest idea what to do about it. Bewilderment at Harry’s sudden nonchalance quickly turns to bitterness and gives Erica the perfect fodder for her new play. It also sparks her to accept the ardent affections of Julian (Reeves), Harry’s young doctor, a man who truly appreciates her.
As convincing as Reeves’ devotion to Keaton is, this section of the film drags a bit since we know that Keaton and Nicholson are meant to be a couple. They are electric together so every bit of angst and anger seems frustrating and pointless. Which isn’t to say the film stops being funny. The two of them arguing is the best part. It’s just that Harry’s inner struggle is nothing we haven’t seen a million times before and though Jack gives an honest and poignant performance, I was still bored by his attempts to come to terms with his emotions. Plus, as a man in his 60s, he should know better. If this part was played by anyone but Jack, Harry would be merely shallow, selfish cartoon character. His innate talent gives depth to the role and makes you care what happens to him, even though you never really learn anything about him. Thankfully, I never really bought Amanda Peet’s attraction to him, otherwise the subsequent relationship with Keaton would have been kind of creepy. Money and a big smile is all girls under 30 apparently need to sleep with a man. I guess since neither Harry nor the young ladies he’s dating are looking for a relationship that would be enough.
Though according to this romantic fantasy, Harry finds he does want more. The ending proves that this film was clearly written by a woman. I highly doubt we’ll see a surge of older men throwing over their young, uncomplicated girlfriends for more mature, experienced gals, but I suppose we can all dream, huh? The story relies on obvious clichés for many of its’ laughs, but still manages to generate honest and poignant moments as well. For those of you tired of the same old romantic themes, this film explores somewhat new ground in unique and funny ways. Keaton and Nicholson get huge props for literally letting it all hang out and proving that middle age can still be sexy. Jack may not be as stunningly gorgeous as Reeves, but he still makes you belief that he’s Mr. Right. SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE is a real rarity these days in Hollywood a smart, soulful, adult film for those outside the MTV demographic.