Something's Gotta Give


          Female directors are still a rarity in Hollywood, and that fact could be the subject of
  an essay  as there are many, many women who should be and deserve to be heard. One
  of those who does have a studio's ear is Nancy Meyers, whose directorial debut was
  the execrable
WHAT WOMEN WANT which teamed Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson in
  what I'm sure Meyers felt was a modern-day screwball comedy. Despite some bad
  reviews, the public made
WHAT WOMEN WANT a success, so Meyers was given
  another shot at directing and writing. Her new film,
SOMMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE
emanates from a pretty good idea, and its execution has resulted in another crowd-pleaser.
  Still, Meyers needs a good editor, as the film has way too much extraneous shots and
  she's in need of a stronger producer than herself ... one willing to say no to some of
  her ideas and one who would help shape the material better.

          The premise of
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE is that a sixtysomething
  professional Lothario (played by Jack Nicholson) is dating a thirtyish auctioneer
  (Amanda Peet). Planning to spend a romantic  weekend at her family's Hamptons
  beach house, the couple encounter some unexpected interruptions in the form of the
  girl's playwright mother (Diane Keaton) and her professor aunt (Frances McDormand).
  While engaging in some rigorous kissing, the older gentleman suffers a heart attack
  and is forced to stay nearby for treatment, necessitating a longer stay at the writer's
  beach house. Of course, Harry (Nicholson) and Erica (Keaton) loathe one another at
  first, but gradually their defenses fall and they discover they have more in common
  than first thought. Of course, there are obstacles: like the fact he's dating her daughter,
  and his doctor (Keanu Reeves) is interested in pursuing a romance with Erica.

          Meyers' ideas may be more suited for a Harlequin romance than a popular movie
  comedy, but she's been blessed with a strong cast that almost always smooths over
  the rough spots in her patchy screenplay. Jack Nicholson is partly sending up his own
  tabloid image as a love 'em and leave 'em bachelor, but far from coasting on his
  accolades he delivers a richly detailed and amusing performance. Diane Keaton
  does her best work in years as the neurotic but intelligent woman. Nicholson and
  Keaton struck on screen sparks back in 1981's
REDS and the passage of time
  has done nothing to diminish their chemistry. Indeed, it has only grown deeper and richer.

          In the supporting roles, Amanda Peet is fine as Keaton's daughter and there's
  way too little of Frances McDormand, who is given one terrific speech early in the film
  and then disappears for long stretches. Her tart presence is sorely missed, especially
  when she just sort of pops up again because Meyers' script deems it necessary. The
  biggest surprise, though, is Keanu Reeves particularly after his dull almost comatose
  turn in
THE MATRIX sequels. Whatever Meyers did to evince his loose, sexy
  performance should be bottled and sold to any future director working with the actor.
  Inevitably in most films where there is a romantic triangle, the casting and performances
  are such that the outcome is preordained. Here Reeves is a formidable challenger
  for Keaton's affections. (I was actually hoping that Meyers would have gone a route
  like
THE WAY WE WERE instead of opting for a pat resolution. That certainly
  would have been a more interesting film, particularly as she was setting it up for
  such an ending.)

          SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE marks a step forward for Meyers as a director.
  Her screenplay is another story. Typical screwball comedies like
MY MAN GODFREY
  or HIS GIRL FRIDAY were all under ninety minutes. Like LOVE ACTUALLY,
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE
goes on too long and contains a lot of extraneous
  material that might have been better served on the DVD. Still, Meyers deserve points
  for making Keanu loosen up, and for reminding audiences (and perhaps more
  importantly studio executives) that a woman over 40 or even over 50 can be
  complicated, sexy, intelligent and the lead in a film.



                               
 Rating:                            C
                                
Running time:                117 mins.
                                
MPAA Rating:                PG-13 for sexual content,  brief nudity
                                                                                          and strong language


                                                     Viewed at Regal Union Square 14
© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.