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Review: Something’s Gotta Give

Sending up Jack Nicholson’s real-life penchant for dating younger women, the film benefits greatly from his rascally screen presence.




Something’s Gotta Give
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Sending up Jack Nicholson’s real-life penchant for dating younger women, Something’s Gotta Give benefits greatly from his rascally screen presence. As 63-year-old music executive Harry Sanborn, Nicholson’s still got the youth and vigor to see him through this dumb, dewy romantic comedy where he reluctantly learns to find romance within his own age range after an unexpected heart attack. Nicholson hasn’t always showed such vigor when coasting through paint-by-numbers studio pictures (he acted entirely with his wily eyebrows in As Good As It Gets and won an Oscar for his troubles), but perhaps it’s because he’s met his match in the lovely Diane Keaton as his prim romantic foil, Erica the quirky would-be spinster. Even through a slew of conventional gags and a plot that lacks the nerve to be anything more than a seasoned take on When Harry Met Sally, Keaton and Nicholson spice up their scenes together and give Something’s Gotta Give some surprising depth. It helps that Nicholson and Keaton aren’t afraid of clownishness, where every twinkle in their eyes is matched with rubber-faced comic mugging. Something’s Gotta Give is relatively painless for its first hour, with absolutely no help from writer-director Nancy Meyers’s generic sitcom camera placements, mind-numbing musical choices, and overtly phony-baloney cutesiness in every tin-eared line of dialogue. Not even Nicholson, Keaton, and a winning supporting cast (Frances McDormand, as a lively proto-feminist, and Keanu Reeves, surprisingly charming as the friendly neighborhood doctor) can breathe life into a painfully drawn-out third act that will have even die-hard romanticists crying for mercy. (This 133-minute endurance test could have easily lost at least 20 minutes of slack time for all of Keaton’s weeping.) Jack and Diane come together, break apart, travel from Long Island to Manhattan to Paris and back again, and bicker over what could have been, should have been, and still might be. Is it love, or just a passing fancy? Come on, Jack…just fuck her, already!

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau, Kadee Strickland, Marjie Gum Director: Nancy Meyers Screenwriter: Nancy Meyers Distributor: Columbia Pictures Running Time: 133 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2003 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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