Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

Directed by Nancy Meyers

In a youth obsessed culture, is it possible to make a movie, much less a romantic movie, about people over fifty?

The answer is yes, which is why we have Something’s Gotta Give.

Mind you, it hedges its bets by giving us Hollywood icons like Jack Nicholson and Dianne Keaton in the lead roles and also populating the screen with some relative youth with Keanu Reeves and Amanda Peet.

It also dresses itself up in some very warm, California-looking images and colours so we have a movie that is simply enjoyable to look at, regardless of what is happening on screen.

Still, it’s a very good romantic comedy, primarily because Keaton and Nicholson are so much fun to watch. The roles aren’t huge stretches for either, but that’s okay. The movie isn’t trying to be Fellini’s 8 ½. It’s simply a warm, kind film that explores the hazards and potentials of being older.

Except to help with some plot points, the backgrounds of the lead characters are largely irrelevant – Nicholson is a kind of music mogul and Keaton is a writer of plays. What is important is that Nicholson’s Harry Sanborn is a 63 year old playboy who restricts his liaisons to women under thirty.

Keaton’s Erica Berry is a divorced, over-fifty woman who has essentially tossed in the towel as far as romance goes and settled into the isolated and lonely life of an “older woman.”

As it turns out, Harry is involved with Erica’s daughter Marin (Amanda Peet). They go to Erica’s summer house for a romantic weekend but it turns out Erica shows up there as well, to work, along with her sister (Frances McDormand). It’s a bit awkward but all agree to stay in the house, the pairs agreeing to stay out of one another’s way.

Unfortunately, Harry has a heart attack. The story develops so that he ends up staying at the summer house being nursed by Erica who, though reluctant, seems to be the only one with any sense of responsibility.

So Harry and Erica are thrown together. While together, they inevitably begin to discover one another and, to the surprise of both, they find a connection, one that is to a large extent based on being older.

Summarizing a story makes it sounds dull but Something’s Gotta Give is definitely not. It’s quite funny as the story develops and there are numerous comedic complications along the way, including a 36 year old doctor (Reeves) who falls for Keaton’s Erica.

This truly is a romantic comedy, one that finds a nice balance between the two tones.

Nicholson’s crustiness helps to keep the movie from becoming too sentimental as does Keaton’s quirky, neurotic charm.

Also interesting to note, though he does not play a very predominant role, this may be the first time I’ve ever really enjoyed a performance by Keanu Reeves. He seems very natural in the part, something I don’t often find with him. (It’s also a nice change of pace from his Neo in the Matrix movies.)

This is a movie with charm, warm humour and a kind of easygoing sparkling quality that makes it tremendously enjoyable to watch.

While not a great film by any means, it is very good and a great change of pace from the endless comic book movies we get these days.

And yes, it’s nice to see a movie where the lead characters aren’t played by this year’s crop of new and nubile “stars.”

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