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Something's Gotta Give

Who's to say that romantic comedies should only star good-looking folks in the throes of thirtysomething crises or teenagers with perfect teeth and skin agonizing over who they'll wind up with at the prom? The genre has grown in popularity in recent years, in part because many of them are smartly written and offer the gentle emotional reassurance a lot of moviegoers crave when they withdraw from their own lives into a darkened cineplex. But abundance often means repetition, leading to a final bit of gushiness that's as predictable as a Yellowstone hot spring. Give credit then to Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, who show their younger peers that folks well into mid-life can fall in love on screen too, and with a lot more charm and sophistication. Writer-director Nancy Meyers' Something's Gotta Give (2003) concerns playwright Erica Barry (Keaton), a successful dramatist who divides her time between the New York theater and her sprawling manse in the East Hamptons. Divorced from her long-time director husband (Paul Michael Glaser), she's settled into the sort of busy routine that often belies dissatisfaction — convinced her twenty years of matrimony constituted a different part of her life, she writes, practices her French, spends time with her sister Zoe (Frances McDormand), and remains devoted to her daughter Marin (Amanda Peet). But Amanda arrives in the Hamptons one day with an unexpected guest, Harry Sanborn (Nicholson), a wealthy entrepreneur who loves young women just as much as he loathes monogamy. Harry doesn't hit it off with Erica or Zoe (a women's studies academic, natch), but before he's able to make a judicious exit, he suffers a heart attack. Rushed to a local hospital, he's placed under the care of Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), who insists Harry must at least stay in the Hamptons for a few days before returning to New York. The only logical place is with Erica, who has a hard time overlooking Harry's Epicurean sensibility — particularly after the devoted Dr. Mercer has asked her out to dinner. Something's Gotta Give was a $124 million hit for Nicholson and Keaton, and it couldn't have come at a better time for both. After a four-year hiatus following As Good as It Gets, Nicholson proved he could carry a small film like About Schmidt, but he veered far too close to shallow typecasting with the abrasive Anger Management. Here, he plays to his known qualities as an aging ladies' man, but it's just a pitch to get folks in seats — as with Schmidt, Nicholson reveals a knack at playing a man who's set in his ways and befuddled by emotional conflicts. As for Keaton, the erstwhile Annie Hall hasn't had a solid hit in more than a decade, and you'd have to go back to 1987's Baby Boom (also written by Nancy Meyers) to find a successful title that she headlined. Like Nicholson, she also plays up her known persona at first — the independent, neurotic New York female — but just as her wardrobe transforms from turtleneck to V-neck sweaters, she also digs out a touching, believable performance as a woman who thought she was too old to have her heart broken (she also has one of the funniest, laugh-out-loud crying fits to be seen on film anywhere). Keanu Reeves comes up with a good supporting turn as the earnest Dr. Mercer — if he's not exactly vibrant, then at least he's good looking and offers an engaging warmth, and he doesn't speak his lines as if central casting sent over a piece of driftwood. Also providing good support are Peet and McDormand, although one suspects the latter originally had a larger role. And yes, much has been made about Keaton's nude scene, but there's not much there there — shot quickly and cleverly, you think you see a lot more than she gives away. Nicholson's mid-60s derriere gets much more screen-time, thanks to a mild case of delirium while flailing about in a hospital gown. Columbia TriStar's Something's Gotta Give offers the film in a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Supplements include a commentary with director Meyers, Keaton, and producer Bruce A. Block, while interview-shy Nicholson plays smart-ass with Meyers on a second track. Also included are a deleted scene of Nicholson doing a passable karoke performance (3 min.), a tour of the Hamptons house set with Peet (3 min.), and filmographies. Keep-case.

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