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Overall Rating
3.22

Awesome: 14.29%
Worth A Look: 25.71%
Average35.24%
Pretty Bad: 17.14%
Total Crap: 7.62%

6 reviews, 69 user ratings


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Something's Gotta Give
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by Erik Childress

"Nancy Meyers Does It Again. And That's Nothing To Praise."
3 stars

Hearing in a trailer that I’ve just witnessed a preview for “a film by Nancy Meyers” ranks pretty high on the cinematic kiss-of-death scale for me. She, along with former partner Charles Shyer, laid waste to the genre of comedy with their sophisticated light touch (aka: not funny) dating back to Private Benjamin and onto films like Baby Boom and remakes of Father of the Bride and The Parent Trap. Try and argue with me that What Women Want wasn’t a wasted premise trapped within an awful execution. Meyers’ signature humor-mildness with a feminist slant seeps from the ads for her latest film and the best compliment I can give it is that it really isn’t too bad. To say the worst thing about it, Meyers makes you sit through nearly two hours to discover it.

After laying his image to waste with his bravura turn in last year’s About Schmidt, Jack Nicholson is back in his comfort zone playing a character who is less than 1% removed from his public image. Harry Sanborn is a hip-hop record producer notoriously famous for his bachelor ways with gals half his 63 years. This weekend, he’s accompanying Marin (Amanda Peet) to her mother’s beach house to finally consummate their friendship. Plans are interrupted when mom, famous playwright Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), shows up with her sister, Zoe (Frances McDormand)

Erica isn’t particularly thrilled to see Marin with this guy, and Zoe, a women's studies teacher, grills him on the psychological implications of his lifestyle. Beginning a series of contrivances, Harry has a heart attack forcing him on an extended stay with the uptight Erica as she works on her latest play. With Harry’s doctor, Julian (Keanu Reeves), quite the fan of Erica’s and Marin making goo-goo eyes at him, the stage is set for a predetermined outcome that we can all see is in the cards.

That’s where Something’s Gotta Give begins to surprise, though. We know that Erica and Harry are anti-star-crossed and are destined to like each other eventually, but their friendship begins much sooner than we expect. Normally we have to suffer through scene after scene of witless bickering until the characters realize that no one else would have their meandering asses except each other. There’s a little of that, including the trailer’s literal money shot where Harry catches a fully nude Erica with all the hysterical grace of “MY EYES!”

Their courtship is played out nicely, even if it can’t help interrupting them so the film can stretch to over two hours. It was refreshing to see Peet’s Marin not played up like just some impressionable, oversexed twit in the beginning. But that’s precisely how she acts when it comes time for her to show up unannounced and wreck some intimate kitchen talk between the two elders.

Meyers’ lack of creativity is on full display with machinations like this and the You’ve Got Mail instant message dialogue, but we’re pulled back in whenever Nicholson and Keaton are just allowed to be left alone. Their lovemaking scene is beautifully handled, funny and touching all at once. Still, we fear it may all be short-lived as they head back into the city with 45 minutes of running time left.

Sure enough, it takes no less than two more suspected heart attacks, a misunderstanding that isn’t even sure it’s actually a misunderstanding and the bickering we thought was long gone to slowly begin sinking this ship.

The difference between a great writer and a mediocre writer can be studied within the Nicholson character. Consider what James L. Brooks could have done with this aging womanizer. On current display there isn’t much to him at all. He is successful, likes young women and makes no apologies for it. Other than having him break down and cry (mostly for comic effect), how much of Harry’s arc is really based on anything other than plot necessities? Brooks, who has already written Nicholson to two Oscars, would have refined that arc and found sharper ways to use humor than having Harry’s morphined ass hang out the back of his hospital gown.

Nicholson may have top billing, but Keaton is the film’s rock and boy does she radiate. If the implied glow women have after a night of great sex has any merit, than Keaton must have been getting some good lovin’ before every shot. Erica is the only fully realized presence in the film and Keaton is the sole reason my mind strayed away from the EXIT sign rather early. It’s a great performance that walks a tightrope between an emotionally clogged human being and the sitcom punchline that Meyers flirts with. How many wailing crying fits does it take before it stops being funny? Two’s company.

This is the Jack and Diane show, so supporting perfs come and go as they please. Keanu Reeves does some very charming work as the suitor infatuated with Erica. Meyers doesn’t give him much of a character other than “nice young doctor who likes aged wine.” Why does he so blindly prefer Erica to say, her daughter? C’mon, Nancy, you have to do more than just make him a counterpoint to Harry. Explore the less-discussed younger man/older woman dynamic. Give him a mommy complex. Something! The fact that Reeves makes Julian work and manages to outcharm Nicholson on his own turf is a compliment I never thought I’d ever pay to Keanu. Frances McDormand is terrific before she’s reduced to a silent cameo in the final 100 minutes and poor Jon Favreau can look for his role in the editing room after being reduced to about three inconsequential lines. His cameo in Elf was bigger.

I was happy that Something’s Gotta Give managed to waylay my expectations on where it was headed. So much so, that I was very close to recommending it. But Meyers couldn’t resist living up to her predisposed reputation with an ending so false that it’s almost indescribable. She hadn’t quite earned the emotional heartache she was headed for by deciding to focus on the less-fleshed out Nicholson character, but at least there was a consistency to it. There’s none to how it finally plays out and I felt sadder and angrier for one character than happier for two. Shame on you Nancy Meyers for almost allowing me to believe that you were capable of making a good film, but thank you for being consistent with my kiss-of-death argument.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8384&reviewer=198
originally posted: 12/12/03 17:06:02
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User Comments

12/06/10 Yvonne I loved this movie, all but the ending. She should have chosen the young doc! 5 stars
11/28/10 Cat The first half was interesting, but the second was boring and the ending-cringe inducing. 3 stars
11/09/10 the dork knight Dreadful second act. The ending made me puke. 3 stars
8/02/10 Cat There were good moments but I can't get the creepy ending out of my mind. 2 stars
4/08/10 PAUL SHORTT SMARTLY FUNNY ROMANTIC COMEDY WITH SOME GOOD PERFORMANCES 3 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. ehh it was ok. 3 stars
11/05/07 Quigley Worth watching just for Keaton and Nicholson's chemistry. Very charming movie 4 stars
8/05/07 ravenmad the banter was very witty, think~Dawson's Creek grows up. I liked it! 4 stars
8/01/07 johnnyfog Performances elevate the first half, but the ending's awful 4 stars
11/11/06 Bill Hi all 2 stars
6/22/06 TB I like Nicholson better 5 stars
4/24/06 R.W.Welch The two leads are just enough to keep it rolling. C+ 3 stars
3/09/06 Dk Nicholsen deserves better 2 stars
10/05/05 Jesse Taylor Can-be-funny comedy with two great stars. Both give worthy performances. 3 stars
3/26/05 Jack Sommersby Take it or leave it. 3 stars
2/21/05 Captain Craig Sophiscated and very well written, but seemed like other Nickolson flicks. 4 stars
9/04/04 T.B. The Cast is all right, but the story is mass up 3 stars
7/08/04 Denise great cast 4 stars
7/01/04 Piz same ol romantic comedy, except a lot longer...After an hour I was out like a light 2 stars
6/27/04 Nancy Lapidus Improbable subplot - young doctor hunks don't pine after 55-year-old women. 3 stars
6/19/04 KENT No chemistry, predictable, and it was L O N G , , , 1 stars
5/16/04 Idiot's Mouth OK, again: old people are NOT funny! Old, naked people are an affront to humanity! Die! Die 1 stars
5/13/04 Pinkline Jones Kitsch amateurish script - would help if Keaton could ACT 3 stars
5/07/04 Ross I laughed so hard, excellent movie. This one's going on my to buy list 5 stars
4/23/04 Elena Nicholson and Keaton at their very best. Movie was clever and deftly witty. 4 stars
4/13/04 PinkiePie Great movie! SO worth watching! 5 stars
4/13/04 Madeline Too long, hated the contrived plot and gross love scenes. 1 stars
4/11/04 felicity reli cool movie 5 stars
4/08/04 Mary Boule A very witty, overdue reaction to the "old guy with babe" Hollywood cliche. Wonderful film. 4 stars
3/23/04 marie-anne Totally refreshing and so much fun 5 stars
3/15/04 Monday Morning Absolutely wonderful 5 stars
3/14/04 E-Rock Pretty good, actually. Nicholson is awesome, and Keaton earns her Oscar nod well. 4 stars
3/08/04 S.F. God Awful !! 2 stars
3/06/04 Jaco Visser A nice, laugh-out-loud, warm and satyrical film! Nicholson at his synic best! 5 stars
3/05/04 Felix Buchmann Jack Nickolson at his worst! 1 stars
2/16/04 My Two Cents Pretty corny, comedy comes from middle-aged romance, e.g. the glasses scene. Jack's good. 4 stars
2/15/04 Pete It's extremely formulatic - yes. But Keaton and Nicholson make you think 'who cares?!'. 5 stars
2/15/04 Samantha Keaton and Nicholson make this film a pure joy. 5 stars
2/15/04 Russell Forget the script - just sit back and enjoy watching two legends at work. 5 stars
2/15/04 stevejones I'm 50 and it gave me the creeps 1 stars
2/12/04 Priscilla Postlethwaite Keanu Reeves plays most likeable character & one left a loose end. Guess it figures. 4 stars
2/12/04 So Erica say's she's not regular & men like regular Erica, ever consider waiting longer in a relationship to discuss your constipation? 4 stars
2/07/04 WILL ACTING MADE THE FILM WORK EXCEPT FOR kEANU................HE STUDIEDAT THESAME ACTING SCHOO 4 stars
2/07/04 Suzz very enjoyable frippery; keaton is a gem 4 stars
2/04/04 Chris It was fine but long and the nude scene was nasty. 3 stars
1/26/04 Paul Frassinelli Fairly funny, with rare strong laughs 4 stars
1/22/04 bribear acting-great; plot-average 3 stars
1/19/04 sillyjillyh Excellent; several great laughs;great acting 5 stars
1/16/04 Lizzie It was fun. 4 stars
1/15/04 Kate Simply dreadful. Ray-Bans only take you so far and Jack has employed them once too often. 2 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Keaton & Nicholson are wonderful in this pleasant comedy. 4 stars
1/15/04 BigNate thouroughly enjoyable 4 stars
1/13/04 Suresh Long, same old same old, but worth a look for acting 3 stars
1/11/04 dave heavily dressed up crap 1 stars
1/10/04 kaz morrison what a starfest!!Loved Diane,although no woman with a brain would choose Jack over Keanu 4 stars
1/09/04 Helen Bradley Keaton great, film should be cut by 25% 3 stars
1/08/04 john wonderful, uplifting...jack and diane 5 stars
1/06/04 Chris Nobody wants to see Keaton naked but everyone should see her preformence. Sweet but long. 3 stars
1/02/04 Emperor's New Clothes? Nope. Just a Fat, Ugly, Naked, Guy. The ending is typical but at least the formula is new 4 stars
12/25/03 breadman Keaton & Jack do well and she is amazing 4 stars
12/25/03 Lindsey One of the best movies i've ever seen! 5 stars
12/24/03 Judy One of my favorite films of all time 5 stars
12/23/03 I liked it Keaton gets naked 3 stars
12/22/03 Sarah They could have cut 15% of the movie. One dimensional and boring. 1 stars
12/22/03 sethandbeth A movie for everyone's ..MOM. So unrealistic!!! 1 stars
12/19/03 Mashawnda Dowell Great Film 4 stars
12/17/03 Flick Chick tv movie of the week type schmaltz - disappointing. 3 stars
12/17/03 Ray It was good, but not too much 3 stars
12/16/03 nick2k good story......but i felt uneady with the transition of a pivitol event. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-Dec-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 30-Mar-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  08-Jan-2004


Directed by
  Nancy Meyers

Written by
  Nancy Meyers

Cast
  Jack Nicholson
  Diane Keaton
  Amanda Peet
  Keanu Reeves
  Jon Favreau
  Frances McDormand



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