Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy realizes what a schmuck he was and tries to win girl back. We’ve seen it a million times before, and I’m really not giving anything away by stating this basic plot of “Something’s Gotta Give.” You kind of know what to expect of a film like this going in, and if it featured any other actors, I would hesitate to recommend it. Instead, we get Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, and I have to ask: What the heck took them so long?
The plot, such as it is, is quite funny during the first half. Nicholson plays a non-committal Lothario who, upon suffering a heart attack, must recuperate in the home of anal-retentive Keaton. Needless to say, they don’t start off as the best of friends. Watching them try to coexist, however, is pure cinematic joy. They may snap, bicker, and tsk-tsk each other’s ways, but we know they harbor deeper feelings, and it is refreshing to see their otherwise formulaic relationship played out with middle-aged performers.
Keaton is absolutely at her best, and the two have such an incredible, natural chemistry together that they carry the film through a listless second half and completely unnecessary finale.
The Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) claims that 20th Century Fox turned down production rights to the film because they felt Nicholson and Keaton were too old to be playing romantic interests. I say, they’re the only reason it works.
Pros: Unusually strong cast. It’s nice to see Jon Favreau in someone else’s film for a change.
Cons: Dull second half. I could have done without the Nicholson butt-shot but, as Keaton was brave enough to go au natural, I suppose it was only fair.
Review Rating: 3.5 out of 5 slow dances to the Johnny Mercer song the film is named after.
“Something’s Gotta Give” (2003)
128 Minutes; USA
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and strong language.
Jack Nicholson (Harry Sanborn)
Diane Keaton (Erica Barry)
Keanu Reeves (Dr. Julian Mercer)
Frances McDormand (Zoe Barry)
Amanda Peet (Marin)
Jon Favreau (Leo)
Written and Directed by: Nancy Meyers
Viewing Format: Theatrical Release
(Portions of this review originally appeared in my “Video View” newspaper column of 12/18/’03)