Something's Gotta Give Review

Something's Gotta Give is the kind of grown-up romantic comedy that has all but died out since grown-ups stopped regularly going to the movies. Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton play the kind of roles that thirty years ago might have been filled by George Segal and Glenda Jackson - an unlikely middle-aged couple who bicker their way to true love. It's the work of writer-director Nancy Meyers, who previously made What Women Want with Mel Gibson. Although that was more of a fantasy, both films have the same basic plot - a charming, lecherous rascal falls for a smarter woman than he's used to and changes his ways.

The rascal this time is Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), a rich, ageing music producer who's spent his life dating young women and escaping commitment. He's looking forward to spending the weekend at the summer beach house of his latest conquest, the beautiful Marin (Amanda Peet). However Marin's mother, divorced playwright Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), is also there to work on her new play and she gets quite a shock when she finds a semi-dressed, sixtysomething stranger going through her fridge. She gets an even bigger shock when she learns the old coot is her daughter's boyfriend. They're all preparing for a weekend of discomfort and embarassment when Harry has a heart attack and has to be rushed to the local hospital, where cardiac specialist Dr Mercer (Keanu Reeves) tells him he'll live but he needs to take it easy and stay somewhere nearby while he recuperates. To Erica's horror, her daughter insists Harry stays at their summer house and then she returns to New York, leaving her mother alone with him. However, as the pair pass the days avoiding and annoying each other, their mutual animosity blossoms first into a grudging friendship and then something more.

This is a very pleasant timewaster with a good few laughs and hugely appealing performances from its two lead actors. Jack may once again be playing Jack but it's hard to think of another star who can do the same thing so often and remain so entertaining and even harder to name one who can get so much mileage out of a line or a facial expression. Diane Keaton has the meatier role, cast as an intelligent, witty woman who has learned to hide her loneliness and fears that falling in love will bring her defences crashing down. If Nicholson makes you laugh, Keaton makes you care what happens and she fully deserves her Oscar nomination.

Working against them and marring what is otherwise a perfect date picture are an awkwardly structured screenplay and a serious case of overlength. The first hour bounces along but by the time the final act should have been reached, we're still only half way through and the second hour stretches the plot out with unnecessary bumps and twists. Two hours and eight minutes is far too long for a light comedy and there's evidence it's been trimmed from an even lengthier cut. Several recognisible cast members appear to have had their parts consigned to the cutting room floor. Jon Favreau and Paul Michael Glaser are glorified extras, though the biggest loss is Frances McDormand, who establishes a great character, has a couple of very funny scenes and then practically vanishes. Her presence might have done a lot to brighten up the flabby second half. Besides the two stars, only Keanu Reeves and Amanda Peet get much of a look-in. Both are fine, although I couldn't help thinking the last thing a patient with a heart condition needs is to wake up and find Keanu Reeves standing over them with a stethoscope.

Overall

6

out of 10

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