Something's Gotta Give review by Mike Long

Art imitates life. Life imitates art. My daughter imitates those "Talking Baby" commercials on MTV. This debate could go on forever. We are often able to overlook the tidbits of reality that crop up in film, and thus don't find them distracting or important. (Unless of course, the realism is an integral part of the story.) Yet, it's the elements of reality in Something's Gotta Give that make the movie interesting. Any film in which the character played by Jack Nicholson is defined by his penchant for younger women clearly has one foot in the here and now, and that is a great jumping off point for the film.

Nicholson stars in Something's Gotta Give as Harry Sanborn, a rich playboy who only dates younger women. As the film opens, Harry is traveling to The Hamptons with his latest conquest, Marin (Amanda Peet), for a romantic getaway at her mother's house. As they are settling in, they are surprised by Marin's mom, Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) and her sister, Zoe (Frances McDormand). Once everyone overcomes their embarrassment, Erica invites Harry to stay for dinner. That awkward meal turns to tragedy when Harry suffers a heart-attack. He is rushed to the local hospital, where Doctor Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves) refuses to allow Harry to return to New York City. Erica volunteers to let Harry stay at her house, only to learn that Marin and Zoe are both leaving. Thus, Erica is trapped in her house with a man that she loathes. But, as Harry and Erica get to know each other, sparks begin to fly. Can Harry fall for a woman his own age? And can Erica, who hasn't been in love since her divorce, learn to trust a man again?

OK, I hope that you're prepared for a vague review, because that's all that I've got for you. I liked Something's Gotta Give, but I'm not 100% sure why. The script by writer/director Nancy Meyers (The Parent , Father of the Bride) is solid, but the story isn't very original. Nicholson's character is the typical letch who whose arrogance proceeds him. Keaton, who has played stuffy and neurotic in the past, personifies stuffy and neurotic in this film, as her character defines uptight. The progression of the relationships in the film is predictable and the ending is a bit of a letdown. There are some funny moments in the film, and at least one touching scene, but it's neither a side-splitting comedy, nor an overwhelming drama. The characters are interesting, but overall, the film screams generic. The supporting cast is good, with Peet and Reeves turning in subtle performances which go against their usual on-screen personas. (Although, during the musical montages which contained Keanu, I could only imagine that the other characters were saying, "Will you please explain Reloaded?!")

But, there is something about the on-screen chemistry between Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton that makes the film worth watching. Organic is the only word to describe the way that their romance evolves in the film. Perhaps it's the fact that we can easily imagine that Nicholson is playing himself, but the scenes between these two veteran actors seem very genuine. Aside from a few artistic touches, Meyers' direction is fairly straight-forward, but she clearly has a gift for writing good characters and was able to create an environment on the set where Keaton and Nicholson could connect. Is this great acting? I don't know. Nicholson is playing the same swarthy character which he always seems to play and Keaton seems to react more than act in the movie. Yet, Something's Gotta Give is a fun, fluffy, romantic-comedy which escapes the "chick-flick" label simply because everyone can relate to the genuine moments in the film.

Something's Gotta Give comes to DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks fairly good, although there is some noticeable grain in some of the daytime scenes. The picture is somewhat soft at times, but this may have been an artistic touch. The colors look good and the skin tones are realistic looking. Ringing artifacts do appear at times, but most won't find them distracting. This isn't a pristine transfer, but it looks the way that a recent theatrical release should. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which goes along well with the transfer. The dialogue is clear and audible, with no hissing or distortion. Being a dialogue-driven film, the majority of the audio comes from the front and center channels. The stereo effects are good, but the only truly noticeable surround effects come from musical cues and crowd noise at a party. The music at this party also yields some subwoofer effects.

The DVD contains a handful of extra features, including two audio commentaries. The first features writer/director Nancy Meyers, producer Bruce Block, and star Diane Keaton, but be advised, Keaton doesn't arrive until 42-minutes into the film. This is an OK commentary as Meyers does most of the speaking, and points out moderately interesting things about the story, the actors, and the set. But, for the most part, all three participants, especially Keaton, seem to be more engrossed in watching the film than talking about it. The second talk has Meyers with star Jack Nicholson. This commentary is much better, for the simple fact that both participants talk consistently throughout. Nicholson isn't as open as one would hope, but he does reflect on the character somewhat, but spends more time talking about the making of the movie. Amanda Peet takes the viewer on a 3-minute tour of the "Hamptons House Set", which is exactly what it sounds like. There is one deleted scene on the DVD, a 3-minute moment in which Harry sings karaoke to Erica. However, on the commentary, Meyers mentions several deleted scenes and notes that she cut 45-minutes. from her rough cut, so there are other scenes out there somewhere. The extras are rounded out by filmographies for the main cast & crew.

7 out of 10 Jackasses

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