Keaton brightens "Something's Gotta Give"

by Eric Melin on December 24, 2003

in Print Reviews

I’ve got a couple things to say about this older-generation romantic comedy.

First, it’s good to see Diane Keaton in a peppy, quirky role again. She and Jack Nicholson are having a hell of a good time in “Something’s Gotta Give,” and it shows.

Director/writer Nancy Meyers has fashioned a populist script from the idea that oldies deserve romance too, and she’s done it with an eye for the box office. By using Nicholson and Keaton’s perceived public personas, she’s tapped into what we really want to see them do onscreen.

Which brings me to my second point. This movie is quietly cleaning up, and will continue to do well into next month. It won’t unseat “The Return of the King” or any big blockbuster with huge first-week money, but it will consistently draw people into the theater. And the number one reason, again, is that it gives the audience what it wants.

It’s a lighthearted look at our modern day sensibilities about romance, with two screen legends doing their thing. It’s very funny, and sometimes fairly affecting, although overall, it is pretty far-fetched stuff.

Which brings me to numero tres. Why the generic, dumb-ass title? “Something’s Gotta Give”? How many movies could have that same title?

At least a thousand! Hell, more than that—I mean, isn’t that the basis for almost every conflict in every movie? Just a cursory look at the last few Best Picture winners shows that.

“Chicago”: Two press-darling murderers behind bars struggling to be cleared of charges despite their guilt. Something’s Gotta Give! “A Beautiful Mind”: A brilliant mathematician struggles to think his way out of his own mental illness. Something’s Gotta Give!

When people ask me what movie I saw this weekend, I tell them. I usually get a befuddled “What?” or a “Which one is that?” kind of a response. I then explain that I saw the new Nicholson/Keaton movie, at which point they immediately recognize the one I’m talking about. Depending on the person’s age, either that person turns up his/her nose, or brightens up with a smile.

Is there such a thing as age-ism?

Anyway, when a movie has to be identified by its stars only, you know you’ve got a wholly unremarkable title. And “Something’s Gotta Give” is about as lame as it gets. Maybe they should have called it “Old Ladies’ Man and Goofy, Uptight Older Woman Find Each Other When All Hope Seems Lost.” A bit long and obvious maybe, but then, nobody would have to ask twice which movie you saw.

The movie has some moments where you know exactly what will happen next. Keaton’s character is a playwright with writer’s block, so you know that at one point, she’ll get a bolt of inspiration from Nicholson and eventually base her next hit play on their relationship. There are some rote moments in this film, and, at over two hours, it is way too long for a romantic comedy.

But the script smartly defines these characters by both their ages AND their spirits, and that’s when I liked it the best.

I’m not sure exactly why Keaton’s character is so hung up on Nicholson’s, besides the fact that he is JACK, but I liked that their moments together were more than most simplistic lovey-dovey stories.

These actors have lots of experience to bring to the table, and the fact that they are both still single certainly doesn’t hurt things. Also, Keanu Reves offers his usual uncomfortably delivered dialogue, but not nearly as often as he usually does, and it doesn’t detract too much from the movie.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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