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I was kindly asked by the wonderful Gill to take part in the Jack Nicholson blogathon. This is to celebrate the great man’s work as he turned 80 yesterday. I’ve always liked Nicholson’s work in a variety of films so it was nice of her to ask me to join in and sing his praises. If you want to be entertained, Nicholson is your man. Anyway back to my review.

Film Title

Something’s Gotta Give

Director

Nancy Meyers

Starring

  • Jack Nicholson as Harry Sanborn
  • Diane Keaton as Erica Barry
  • Keanu Reeves as Dr Julian Mercer
  • Amanda Peet as Marin Barry
  • Frances McDormand as Zoe

A sprightly romantic comedy about unexpected attraction in middle age, Something’s Gotta Give is an amusing showcase for both Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Sure it has its contrivances, but there’s something very amiable and surprisingly touching to this film that makes it stand out from the endless pack of romantic comedies we are assailed with.

Harry Sanborn is a successful man in his 60’s, he owns a music company and his main passion in life is easy relationships with women who are much younger. The old dog has a rule of not dating a woman over 30, which keeps his status as a perennial playboy steady. His latest conquest is the pretty Marin, who invites him to her mother’s beach house in the Hamptons, thinking that her mother Erica is busy somewhere else. To her surprise, Erica, who is a successful divorced playwright, returns with her sister Zoe and is shocked to find her daughter and Harry are something of an item. Zoe talks her round and Erica reluctantly lets Harry stay, despite her immediate dislike for him. The evening gets eventful when Harry has a heart attack when preparing for sex and is subsequently hospitalized. Informed by his doctor that he can’t travel far and must recover nearby, he ends up recuperating in Erica’s house, much to her annoyance. Harry finds Erica to be overly uptight and prickly, while Erica thinks of Harry as just a rude and uncouth womanizer. Yet being forced to take care of Harry has its impressions on Erica, whether she likes it or not. The two start out at complete odds over their ideas of the other, yet quickly these differences start to wilt and an attraction begins to form. Both of them don’t quite know how to react to this unexpected creation, though it definitely makes both take stock of things and possibly open up to welcoming love. Yet as Harry recovers, his stay at Erica’s is cut short as his health improves. As the two have now grown to love the other unexpectedly,  it’s up to Harry to decide whether he can truly change or return to his usual life of being a playboy. Add to this equation, Harry’s young doctor Julian taking a romantic interest in Erica, much too her surprise and things are about to get interesting.

Nancy Meyers provides breezy direction and writing, that still retains substance through how well-crafted the characters are. Meyers supplies a good helping of unpredictable moments to Something’s Gotta Give, that pay off and make it a funny watch. There’s something quite rejuvenating at seeing two people in the middle of their lives find romance, there are too few movies that deal with attraction among mature adults. Now it must be said that the movie does over stay its welcome due to the length of it and how it does dabble in levels of seen it all before. Generally though, Something’s Gotta Give gains major points from the casting, humorous yet moving writing and the tone of the piece. There is a level of genuine heart to things, as Erica’s seemingly comfortable existence is challenged by someone she never though she’d like. Observing the changes the attraction has for them both provides Something’s Gotta Give with a surprising emotional core, coloured with side-splitting comedy( such as Harry walking in on a naked Erica, ensuring much awkward encounters). I appreciate when a comedy has depth to it, as too many comedies forget that you sometimes need drama for the laughs to work.

Jack Nicholson is a devilish yet revealing presence as the ageing playboy, realising that life may be catching up with his lifestyle. I enjoyed how Nicholson sort of sends up the public’s persona of himself( the grinning Lothario who always looks like he’s up to something naughty), yet colours it with a surprising amount of vulnerability too. It’s an unexpected turn from him that has all his wolfish tics and adds a healthy dose of open humanity to the mix. He truly makes the part his own and I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. Diane Keaton gorgeously plays off Nicholson as the self-sufficient playwright, discovering that romance could still be on the cards for her despite her assertion that she’s passed it. A sophistication, humour and convincing clarity can all be seen in Keaton’s work, that makes you enjoy being in her company as her professional attitude makes way for touching revelation. Any romantic comedy largely succeeds or fails on the chemistry between the leads; Something’s Gotta Give joyfully fits into the former. You just get this natural and glowing way that Nicholson and Keaton interact, that really brings out the heart of both people who overcome differences to find that they might be right for each other. Then you have Keanu Reeves as the dashing doctor that could only ever appear in a romantic comedy. Reeves seems to realise this and plays the part amusingly as a sort of spoof of the dishy man in uniform that couldn’t possibly exist in real life. Amanda Peet provides sparkling energy, albeit in an underused capacity along with a wise-cracking but too little seen Frances McDormand.

So while it runs too long and isn’t above being slightly formulaic, Something’s Gotta Give has enough sharp writing and cracking performances, particularly Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, to make it a delight.

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