Middle-aged Keaton wins Nicholson away from the young 'uns in Something's Gotta Give.

Victor, Mature 

Middle-aged Keaton wins Nicholson away from the young 'uns in Something's Gotta Give.

omething's Gotta Give is designed to appeal to older women, and it very likely will. Diane Keaton gives a good performance in it as a postmenopausal playwright who gets back in touch with her libido. The movie will probably make lots of money.

Not that it deserves to. Everything about Something's Gotta Give can be deduced by looking at its poster, or even from a passing knowledge of its stars, Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Keaton in real life is a single woman who opined in a recent Entertainment Weekly interview that she'll probably never get married. Nicholson is an aging jet-setter who rarely dates women older than thirty. It's pure fantasy to imagine Keaton or someone like her breaking him of that habit. But fantasy is why we have movies, right?

But if this is wish-fulfillment for older women, why give Nicholson to Keaton when she could have Keanu Reeves? Playing a 35-year-old doctor infatuated with Keaton's Erica Barry, Reeves, perhaps relieved that no one's jerking him around on wires or jamming power cords into the back of his head, actually appears to be acting. His character is genuinely nice to Erica and attracted to her from the get-go, but apparently even older women prefer the bad boy. Nicholson is once again faced with a woman who makes him want to be a better man, and that worked out well for him a few years back, so behold the same shtick anew.

The most amusing thing about this alleged comedy is the way the Motion Picture Association of America has ended up tacitly proving the film's point, namely that society wrongly assumes older women can't be sexy. Diane Keaton actually delivers a full frontal nude shot -- and the movie gets a PG-13 rating. If Amanda Peet, who plays Keaton's daughter, did the same, it would have been an instant R (see The Whole Nine Yards and Igby Goes Down). The ratings board apparently assumes that naked middle-aged women aren't as problematic for children to see as those of a younger age. Do Jack Valenti and company assume it won't be considered erotic? It's hard to draw any other conclusion.

Nicholson's character, Harry Sanborn, is supposed to be the CEO of a hip-hop label called Drive-By Records. Let that sink in for a moment. Jack Nicholson. Listening to hip-hop. Anyway, Nicholson is dating Amanda Peet, only just as they're about to consummate the relationship in her mom's beach house, he starts getting chest pains. Mom (Keaton) and her best friend, Zoe (Frances McDormand, who disappears from most of the movie), have shown up to embarrass everyone, and they get the old man to the hospital in time, where Dr. Keanu tells him he isn't in good enough shape to travel. This wacky contrivance ensures that ol' Jack ends up staying at Keaton's house, where his bull-in-a-china-shop manner can slowly melt into true love.

And then ... more stuff happens. The movie comes to a natural end. But wait! It keeps going. Then it ends again. Wait, no. Hold on, here's the real climax ... ah, damn it! When does this thing end? Is it over yet? Here's a hint: If the ending appears to be one you wouldn't have predicted, the film isn't finished.

It's a shame to see Nicholson slumming for an easy paycheck. Keaton, though, is utterly convincing and charming as a mature woman feeling the giddiness of love for the first time in a decade or two. If only the movie deserved her. Keaton and Nicholson's improv would work better than some of Meyers' staged bits, such as a near-endless montage of crying scenes that's supposed to play as the height of hilarity but makes you fumble for the mute button on some imagined remote control.

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