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Something's Gotta Give

A sixtysomething playboy meets a fiftysomething playwright under less-than-ideal circumstances, and together they discover that old dogs can indeed learn new tricks.


At 63, Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) has everything every guy wants: Money, power and hordes of women under 30 throwing themselves at him. His current flame is Marin (Amanda Peet), whose mom, famous Broadway playwright Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), has a sweet beach house in the Hamptons. The May-December couple has a romantic weekend in mind when they take the Long Island Expressway out to mom's fancy shack, but their plans change when her high-strung mom and feminist aunt Zoe (Frances McDormand) turn up there, too, catching Harry raiding the fridge in his briefs. After such inauspicious beginnings, it's not surprising that Harry and Erica are at each other's throats, and shortly thereafter, the stress gets to Harry and his ticker gives out. After consulting with hottie local doc Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), the crew decides that Harry, unable to travel, will have to recuperate in the Hamptons, and Erica gets stuck taking care of the reluctant patient in her home while trying to write her new play. It all gets complicated when Erica and Harry start to fall for each other, Marin breaks it off with Harry, and Julian gets a yen to play doctor with Erica.


A deliciously well-cast romp, Something's Gotta Give offers the versatile Keaton a sexy, funny role--something that's no doubt hard for a woman over 30 to find in a town like Hollywood, where lipo-sucked hips, puffed lips, tucked tummies and bouncy boobs tend to get more screen time than intelligent, successful fiftysomething women whose brains are their biggest asset. Keaton runs with the opportunity, proving that post-menopausal women can still be sexy and turning in what may be her best comic performance since Annie Hall. If her character is just the tiniest bit familiar, she makes up for it with impeccable timing and great delivery of the film's generally smart dialogue. For once, Nicholson's performance is enhanced by sharing the screen with an actress instead of the other way around; Keaton is every bit a match for his legendary talent and often commands more attention than he does. Still, when the movie falls a bit flat, and it occasionally does, it's in the chemistry between the Nicholson and Keaton--she and Reeves make a much sexier onscreen couple. McDormand is formidable and funny as Erica's sister Zoe, but her character regrettably all but disappears after the first act. Peet and Reeves don't have much to do comically compared to their older counterparts, but they do well playing it straight against the rest of the outrageous cast.


Director/writer/producer Nancy Meyers is known for making films like this one with strong female characters. From her first producing/writing effort with Private Benjamin in 1980 to 2000's What Women Want, which she produced, Meyers' choice of films has changed with the times but stayed true to her primary focus--intelligent comedies with great roles for women. If her 1998 directorial debut with The Parent Trap remake could have been better chosen, she's redeemed herself with Something's Gotta Give. Women everywhere, especially those of a certain age, will find in this film at last a love story that makes sense--and moviegoers around the country should be thrilled to see Nicholson finally get wise and hook up with somebody his own age.

Bottom Line

Something's Gotta Give may not be as good as it gets, but it's an intelligent, funny look at relationships with mostly sparkling dialogue and a great performance from Diane Keaton.