Film Reviews

SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE

By • Dec 12th, 2003 •

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Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures present a Waverly Films production
Running time — 125 minutes / MPAA rating: PG-13

The trailer insulted me and the premise is cruel. Of course, we all know that Keaton’s humiliation will be trumped by Nicholson falling madly in love with her and realizing his stupidity at rejecting her. He’ll become miserable and long for her. There will be a happy, happy ending.

However, the spine of the story is flawed. What young, sexy woman would not want to make love to a 67 year old man who is short, balding, has a visible paunch, is witless, graceless, disrespectful, and a bore? Oh, yeah: also a braggart. This kind of man will only succeed with young girls if he is a rich, famous movie star. Victoria Secret models do not merrily date the used car salesman who is over 65 and rents. (The average elderly man looking for a young chick would be best advised to troll in a third world country and wave the requisite, persuasive bargaining chip – the spousal visa.)

Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) is a 63-year-old music mogul dating Marin (Amanda Peet). Sanborn prides himself in never dating women older than 30. We love him already! He is so gracious! Indeed, a man who boasts like this must love women!

We want to spend the evening with him as he brags about his sexual conquests!

In the embarrassing trailer, Sanborn nearly has apoplexy when he mistakenly sees Marin’s mother,Erica (Diane Keaton),naked in her own house. Ah, the horror! Not for a minute would any woman shriek in terror at seeing flabby, fat Sanborn nude. By the way, Erica is slim, fit, attractive, smart, charming, a highly successful Broadway playwright, rich, sweet, and has a gorgeous beachfront Hamptons retreat. All this, but unfortunately she’s way too old for Sanborn.

Sanborn has a “slight” heart attack while spending the weekend as Marin’s guest at Erica’s house. He only gets as far as taking off his pants revealing to Erica and her sister Zoe (Frances McDormand) his romantic intent vis-à-vis Marin. At the hospital, Erica meets Sanborn’s ER doctor, Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), who is a big fan of Erica’s work. Mercer quickly becomes infatuated by Erica. He looks at her with sincere sexual interest. He shows genuine fondness for her as a strikingly handsome woman. He is not afraid of her “old lady” body. He wants her. He appreciates her. He admires her. In a wonderful performance, Reeves shows us all this. Keaton is appropriately flattered and responds by blushing and being embarrassingly disarmed by the attention. At least Erica knows her place in the youth-obsessed Western world.

At the hospital Mercer misidentifies Sanborn as Marin’s grandfather. Thus begins the humiliation flip-flop. Now, it’s Sanborn’s turn. He shows his saggy backside that young woman want. He takes Viagra.

He needs it? I’m shocked!

Mercer advises Sanborn not to leave the Hamptons. He must stay at Erica’s while Marin goes back to the city. Erica and Sanborn spend time together. Sanborn reluctantly begins to like Erica while Mercer actively pursues her. Sanborn is a cad, so it is rather disarming that Erica begins to see him as a possible sexual partner.

They have sex. Erica has a powerful orgasm. She falls in love with him. She dumps Mercer for a man who will never recognize his big character flaws.

Screenwriter-director Nancy Meyers is manipulative. However, the manipulation is so skillful and the set-up so clever, that SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE works. Keaton is perfect and the audience loves the fact that Nicholson makes fun of himself, uses Viagra, and realizes that Erica is truly a fantastic woman.

I enjoyed the movie purely for its stark manipulative excess, but never for once believed that Sanborn would change. I saw unhappiness in Erica’s future.


Credits:
Screenwriter-director: Nancy Meyers
Producers: Bruce A. Block, Nancy Meyers
Director of photography: Michael Bullhaus
Production designer: Jon Hutman
Music: Hans Zimmer
Co-producer: Suzanne Farwell
Costume designer: Suzanne McCabe
Editor: Joe Hutshing

Cast:
Harry Sanborn: Jack Nicholson
Erica Barry: Diane Keaton
Julian: Keanu Reeves
Zoe: Frances McDormand
Marin: Amanda Peet
Leo: Jon Favreau
Dave: Paul Michael Glaser
Dr. Martinez: Rachel Ticotin

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