Jan 4, 2004 If anything gave in "Something's Gotta Give," it would seem to have been Jack Nicholson's waistline.
The smart, romantic comedy stars Nicholson — as filthy rich ladies' man Harry
Sanborn — opposite Diane Keaton — as enormously successful Broadway playwright Erica Barry — with an abundantly talented cast.
The movie asks the age-old question: Can an aging, overweight actor still get it on with the under-30 set? "Some say I'm an expert on younger women," says Sanborn, "since I've been dating them for 40 years." Ah, how art follows life. Variety says, "This is Jack playing Jack."
The truth of the matter is, yes, he can. The more somber truth is, he really shouldn't. Though Nicholson remains a fine actor, the persona hasn't kept pace. (At least, that was the opinion of several in the audience, including this reviewer.) His maniacal glee in his prey hasn't diminished, but his physical appearance ain't what it used to be. When he reaches for Marin (actress Amanda Peet), Erica's nubile young daughter, the distaff side of the audience could be heard groaning as the men cheered him on. Oh, well, some things never change.
Keaton could also be accused of playing herself, but she does it with such grace; the interplay between the two actors — fictional or real — makes the movie. Keaton has lost none of her appeal: The facial expressions, the intelligent eyes, the gorgeous smile, all are intact.
Marin has invited Sanborn to Erica's plush Hamptons home for the weekend, in the firm belief that mom is in the city. Whoa! Who should arrive and find Sanborn in his skivvies in her kitchen raiding her refrigerator? Not only Erica, but her sister Zoe, brilliantly if all too briefly played by Frances McDormand.
After a round of who is who, Sanborn agrees to leave in the morning, but during the course of the night his Viagra goes to naught as he suffers a minor heart attack at a crucial moment with Marin, and he is rushed to the local hospital where he is tended by young Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), who recommends a couple days rest before returning to New York.
Turns out Marin must leave the next day, and, of course, Erica has to tend to Sanborn's wants. In the course of events, all quite predictable, Erica falls for Sanborn; Sanborn disengages himself from Marin (though not his other stable of fillies); the young doctor Mercer falls for Erica, at least 25 years his senior; and the dialogue flies. The dialogue by producer, director and writer Nancy Meyers, is marvelous.
Erica is writing a play which eventually becomes an all-too-autobiographical look at her so-far disastrous romance with Sanborn. It is a Broadway hit as a musical, including a dance number by a male chorus line with hospital gowns open in back, an incident that occurred in the Hamptons hospital stay. One almost wishes the whole movie were the Broadway play.
Mercer's love for Erica seems as bewildering to the audience as it is to Erica. Reeves remains a peripheral figure, not exactly here with the rest of us. When, in the happy ending, he releases the apparent love of his life readily to Sanborn, one wonders why he was written into the script to begin with, albeit he, at least, is gratifying to look at.
Anyhow, it's slightly more than two hours long, and you'd never know it. And it's fun. For some reason, it's rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and strong language. The nudity is so brief — Sanborn accidently comes upon Erica déshabillé — that the audience barely knows what has happened. The incident, however, becomes a defining moment between the soon-to-be lovers.
I've heard stronger language in beer commercials.
It is playing at Market Square East on St. Thomas.
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