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Nancy Meyers uses her writing and directing skills to make an excellent film
Of the many things I like about going to the movies there are two experiences that always stand out more than others. The first is going to see a film that you have so-so expectations for and finding out that it is not only better than expected, but very good indeed. The second is going to see a film you have high expectations for and not being disappointed. Something's Gotta Give falls squarely into the second category.
Sometimes when legendary stars are teamed up in a film, the result is often less than passable. Not so with this film, thanks to a sharp-witted script and direction by Nancy Meyers, two great stars in Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson who click wonderfully together on screen and an excellent supporting cast that includes Keanu Reeves, Amanda Peet and Frances McDormand. This is a romantic comedy that is funny when it's meant to be, insightful when it needs to be, and filled with many sincere and touching moments.
Harry Sanborn (Nicholson), the over-age playboy who has spent his entire life avoiding serious commitments, is set to spend the weekend with his flavor of the moment girlfriend, Marin(Amanda Peet), at a beach house owned by Marin's mother. Unfortunately for Harry and Marin, Marin's mother Erica Barry(Diane Keaton), who is a famous playwright, shows up for the weekend also with her sister Zoe(Frances McDormand). Of course Erica doesn't quite know how to deal with the fact that her daughter is dating and possibly sleeping with a man of Harry's reputation and age leading to some very funny dialog between Harry, Erica and Zoe that rings mounds of truth. It's these early scenes in the film that sets the pace, grabs your attention, then never lets you go. Later, when beginning to get it on with Marin, Harry suffers a heart attack. Now I know having a heart attack is not supposed to be particularly funny, but in this case it's some of the many many hilarious scenes that rock throughout Something's Gotta Give. When Harry is taken to the hospital, we meet Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), who happens to be a great admire of Erica's plays and quickly develops a crush on her. Of course, plot manipulations being what they are, Harry ends up recuperating alone in Erica's beach house. Everything that happens from that point on speaks volumes about love, aging, and especially how men and women are viewed differently as they grow older.
I can't say enough here about Diane Keaton's performance in this film. For all the dramatic roles she has played, she once again proves how truly versatile she is with this very touching yet truly comedic role. Jack Nicholson as Harry Sanborn, is equally perfect also. He manages to take a character that we should absolutely loathe for his shallow behavior and make him not only likable but gives him depth as well. It is perhaps his best comedic role ever. Keanu Reeves in a less flashy role, shines as the young Doctor. We believe in his sincere admiration for Erica and he manages to pull it off by making us believe this is not just a school boy type crush. For some brief but very funny moments, Frances McDormand deserves our praise also.
Nancy Meyers has shown great promise as a director with the OK efforts of The Parent Trap and What Women Want. As a writer she has had some fine moments with Irreconcilable Differences, Baby Boom and Father of the Bride. With Something's Gotta Give, she puts the pieces of the puzzle together for some first class entertainment. You won't be disappointed.
My Grade: A+
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