Nancy Meyers' "Something's Gotta Give" is a delightfully eccentric romantic comedy but a little too long-winded as by the obligatory "Six Months Later" frame, "Something's Gotta Give" still has a lotta steam left.
Jack Nicholson plays Harry Langer, a successful 63-year-old music business mogul and lucky boyfriend of Marin Barry (Amanda Peet), an auctioneer who has no problem dating a guy who can't keep commitments and has a general rule of thumb that prevents him from dating women over 30. Immediately I wondered how strong their relationship could be if she was full aware that Harry is a 'player' and that he subjectively views women by their age. Ah, but enough commentary on what I believe should be an appropriate relationship; we've got a 2+ hour movie to cover.
So Harry and Marin arrive at her mother's home in the Hamptons for a weekend of romance, but are suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Marin's mom, Erica (Diane Keaton), an established Broadway playwright divorced from a 20-year marriage, and her Aunt Zoe (Frances McDormand), just another character in the story.
The first encounter between Harry and Erica could have gone better as he is taken to be a burglar and is threatened with a kitchen knife before his explanation. If you remember from the trailer, Harry is casually perusing the refrigerator in his underwear, and that's the type of character he is. Anxious yes, but laid back as well.
Erica confusingly ponders why her daughter would date a man 30-years her senior, and isn't impressed by his status as the president of Drive-By Records, the second most lucrative hip-hop recording company in the world. Erica as we soon learn, isn't a fan of rap and asks Harry, "How many words can you come up with that rhyme with bitch?"
The gang decides to the make the best of the situation and all decide to live together for the weekend. Erica and Aunt Zoe are gabbing in the kitchen about why old men like younger women while Harry and Marin are in the bedroom doing other things. But while making love to the tunes of Marvin Gaye, Harry goes into cardiac arrest and is rushed into the local emergency room where his doctor, Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), forbids Harry to return to the city before he completely recovers. Assigned a homecare nurse, Harry is discharged and sent to recuperate at Erica's luxurious beachfront home. Marin returns to Manhattan and leaves Erica with her unwanted and sometimes bitter houseguest.
Back at the hospital, Julian met Erica and gushed over her great work and boasted that he'd seen every one of her plays. Erica is flattered but her skepticism over age differences doesn't allow her to see that he's attracted her.
Erica's reason for coming to the Hamptons in the first place was to get comfortable and work on her latest comedy, but her casual and regular-paced life is abruptly interrupted when she starts to have feelings for Harry and at the same time gets asked out by his doctor, the young Dr. Julian Mercer.
The plot thickens when Harry and Erica start spending time together and take walks along the visual Hamptons shoreline. Harry is dating Erica's daughter and Erica is being romanced by Harry's doctor. A simple solution would be to pair the young ones together as well as the older, but fortunately there's some figuring out to do on our part before the finale.
Nancy Meyers, who is to the romantic comedy what Quentin Tarantino is to the action film, writes, directs and produces a generally familiar love story, but somehow manages to keep it just fresh enough to keep us intrigued. Well, it is predictable. You'll get it right on your first try but will have a few other scenarios in the back of your mind worked out just in case there's that twist that doesn't come.
Jack Nicholson is electric as always, but I enjoyed his similar role in "About Schmidt" a little more. In both films, Nicholson plays a character whom for years has stuck to a familiar routine and is suddenly awoken by a life-changing revelation. In both films, his ageing buttocks delightfully entertain the audience, and in this case they are on display for an extended period of time as the sedated Harry does a dance number too fast for the slit in the back of his hospital gown. And finally, in both films, his co-star bares all for the camera. Kudos to Diane Keaton for joining Kathy Bates in proving that sexuality isn't limited by age. To think, Amanda Peet is the one who keeps her clothes on.
"Something's Gotta Give" is about the rekindling and sensual rebirth of older people. Some of the funniest moments in the film come during scenes of passion and romance that get interrupted by the nuisances of old age. Both need their glasses to read their watches and Harry must always inform his doctor with every visit to the ER as to if he's taken Viagra which can be fatal when nitroglycerin is intravenously administered. They have to worry about Harry's impotency, but not about needing birth control because Erica is post-menopause.
The film has a strong cast but the spotlight is primarily on Nicholson and Keaton, and neither fail to impress. Peet's character is the least believable, probably because she seems to be able to walk in and out of relationships with so much ease while the film nearly halts to show us the effects of being heartbroken on her mother. Reeves handles his part as good as he should with the little amount of presence his character has, but it's nice to see that he's getting work in the post-Matrix era. Jon Favreau plays Harry's assistant in a cameo that's about as long as the one he had in "Elf" playing the doctor.
"Something's Gotta Give" begins to overstays its welcome as we get into the "Six Months Later" phase, but it ends smoothly if not clever, which has been a problem for a lot of Hollywood films lately. It's an enjoyable flick and I gladly recommend it to fans of Jack Nicholson and seekers of a good romantic comedy. It's not as funny as "Love Actually," but it's a lot smarter.
Note: "Something's Gotta Give" is only rated PG-13 because there is no violence and the language is mild, however there is considerable nudity and may not be appropriate for the underage crowd.