January 9, 2004 -- “Something's Gotta Give” is a good romantic comedy with great performances by Jack Nicholson of “About Schmidt” and Diane Keaton of “Town & Country” as mature adults who think they are above such mundane emotions as love, but find out otherwise.
This is one of those rare films that depicts sexuality in mature adults. A very funny comedy, it derives most of its humor from the two main characters, and how other characters play off of them. Harry Sanborn (Nicholson) is an aging playboy who has vowed never to settle down. He loves to have relationships with young women because he finds them less complicated. Erica Barry (Keaton) is a successful playwright who has given up on love and is very comfortable with her life. When the two are forced to spend time together, sparks fly, and their comfortable façades are ruined. Sanborn is dating Barry's daughter, Marin (Amanda Peet of “Identity”) and visits her home, where he has a medical problem which forces him to stay, as in “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” Erica becomes Sanborn's unwilling host and caretaker until he recovers.
The film includes a surprisingly good performance by Keanau Reeves of “The Matrix” as Julian Mercer, a doctor treating Sanborn's condition. Mercer falls in love with Erica, further complicating the budding relationship between Erica and Sanborn. One of funnier story lines in the film happens when Erica's romance with Sanborn hits the rocks. She puts her powerful emotions to work and writes a new play in which a Sanborn-like character plays a prominent role. The dancing men in their loose-fitting hospital gowns seen in this play are pretty funny. Sanborn's reaction to seeing this scene is even funnier. The whole play-writing subplot provides an interesting look into the creative process and how writers can use their art for defensive and cathartic purposes.
Amanda Peet is also effective as the daughter. Frances McDormand also stars as Zoe Barry, Erica's sister, but it is a minor role, almost a cameo. Jon Favreau (“Daredevil”) also gives a nice performance Sanborn's assistant Leo. Former “Starsky and Hutch” star-turned-director Paul Michael Glaser appears in the film as Erica's ex-husband Dave. Both the acting and the chemistry between Keaton and Nicholson are perfect. The two actors are the heart and soul of the movie. No one should be surprised to learn that writer-director Nancy Meyers (“What Women Want”) wrote this script with these two actors specifically in mind for the roles. The ending of the film, however, is contrived. If you are going to contrive an ending for a romantic comedy, take a page from Shakespeare and have the good sense not to make love a zero-sum game where somebody has to lose in order for someone else to win. That kind of ending tends to ruin the whole mood of the film. This film rates a B.
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