|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.
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.