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Nancy Meyers
Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Frances McDormand, Keanu Reeves, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau, Paul Michael Glaser, Rachel Ticotin
Writing Credits:
Nancy Meyers

Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) is a perennial playboy with a libido much younger than his years. During a romantic weekend with his latest infatuation, Marin (Amanda Peet), at her mother's Hamptons beach house, Harry develops chest pains. He winds up being nursed by Marin's reluctant mother, Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) - a successful, divorced New York playwright. In the process, Harry develops more heart pangs - of the romantic kind - for Erica, an age appropriate woman whom he finds beguiling. When Harry hesitates, his charming thirty-something doctor (Keanu Reeves) steps in and starts to pursue Erica. And Harry, who has always had the world on a string, finds his life unraveling.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$16.064 million on 2677 screens.
Domestic Gross
$124.002 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 128 min.
Price: $28.95
Release Date: 3/30/2004

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Nancy Meyers, Actor Diane Keaton and Producer Bruce A.  Block
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Nancy Meyers and Actor Jack Nicholson
• “Hamptons House Set Tour with Amanda Peet”
• Deleted Scene
• Filmographies
• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Something's Gotta Give (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 26, 2004)

Score one for the old ladies! Though we always hear that actresses past a certain age can’t get sexy roles, Diane Keaton proves that theory wrong with Something’s Gotta Give, a successful romantic comedy that shows a woman pushing 60 can still shake her money-maker.

At the movie’s start, we meet Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), an aging lothario who refuses to date anyone other than significantly younger women. Currently he sees Marin (Amanda Peet), the daughter of successful playwright Erica Barry (Keaton). They go to her fancy Hamptons beach house for a weekend alone, but matters complicate when Erica unexpectedly shows up with her sister Zoë (Frances McDormand). After a weird encounter, they all agree to hang out at the house for the weekend, though Erica doesn’t seem too wild about this.

Erica clearly sees Harry as a lech, and when she sees other older men with younger women, she clearly starts to fear for a future existence as a single old lady. She and Harry bicker, mainly because she doesn’t care for the superficial womanizer.

Matters go downhill when Harry collapses during foreplay. He has a heart attack and gets rushed to the hospital. There he gets assistance from Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves). After the doctor helps Harry, he meets the women, all of whom become instantly smitten with the young stud. In reverse, Julian demonstrates an interest in Erica, as he admires her work, but she denies these signs.

Harry gets discharged but it becomes apparent he’s not recovered totally. Julian agrees to let him leave the hospital if he stays nearby, so Erica very reluctantly allows Harry and his entourage to stay at her place.

Before long, though, all leave the home, which means Erica gets stuck alone with Harry. Unsurprisingly, the two butt heads, and it becomes worse after he fires his nurse. However, the pair occasionally try to get along, and they slowly start to thaw their relationship. In the meantime, Julian pursues his interest in Erica and asks her out on a date.

Essentially, the rest of the movie follows this triangle. The usually alone Erica has to deal with attention from both the dreamy doctor and the frisky older man. We watch as she addresses these concerns and decides what to do in the face of various issues.

Give didn’t light up the box office, but it took in $124 million, which seems darned solid for a comedy that involves romance among the AARP set. The presence of a solid cast certainly helped, and they help make some mediocre material fairly likable. At its heart, Give exists as a fantasy for older women, and who can blame them for wanting one? Older guys get to live out their dreams via flicks in which their peers snag fabulous babes, so why not turn the tables for once?

To its credit, Give makes the scenario plausible. It doesn’t make Erica’s suitor unrealistically young, and given the fact that Keaton’s aged damned well, we can buy his attraction. Keaton even pulls off her nude scene nicely enough to make me want to use the old freeze frame!

I’ve never been a huge fan of Keaton, but she displays a nicely unassuming charm as Erica. The character easily could have turned into something of a shrill or neurotic harpy, but that doesn’t happen. Instead, Erica seems quirky but likable and sexy. She even pulls off a purposefully over the top crying scene with aplomb.

Nicholson doesn’t go out on a limb as Harry. Essentially he plays himself, but that’s enough for this role. He doesn’t stretch in the part but he makes Harry appropriately devilish and saucy, and we buy his development into a more mature guy. He and Keaton show a nice chemistry and make their scenes work.

One negative comes from the relentless inevitability of so much of the film. The story takes some forced twists but nothing much that we see comes as a surprise. Add to that some very awkward character development and exposition and the film stutters at times. A rather ponderous running time of two hours plus doesn’t help, as this kind of flick needs to be tight and lean.

Still, Something’s Gotta Give seems generally entertaining. It never presents a laugh riot, but it provides more laughs than I expected. Frankly, I went into this chick flick with low expectations, but the result comes across as reasonably charming.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Something’s Gotta Give appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A surprisingly mediocre transfer, Give never looked terrible, but it rarely looked very good either.

Sharpness presented a frequent concern. Much of the film seemed moderately ill-defined, with shots that appeared just a bit “off” and unfocused. The definition wasn’t poor, but mild softness infused most of the flick. Whether this occurred because of an attempt to hide age-related physical issues with its lead, I don’t know, but the effect remains the same. No jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. Occasional examples of print flaws showed up, though. I discerned a smattering of specks and bits of grit, though not tons. Still, I saw more than I expected from a new flick.

Colors looked decent but unspectacular. The palette appeared somewhat strangely subdued, as the tones seemed moderately pale much of the time. The colors never were bad, but they lacked much vivacity and life. This may have stemmed from production design, but I couldn’t figure out a logical reason why the filmmakers would elect to depict the action that way; usually stylized colors look that way for a logical reason. Blacks were nicely deep and dense, though, and low-light shots came across as reasonably concise and well depicted. Give consistently remained watchable, but this seemed like a bland transfer overall.

While not bad, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Something’s Gotta Give seemed pretty bland. Unsurprisingly, this chatty flick presented a soundfield with a heavy forward emphasis. The surrounds kicked into action to provide decent ambience but little more. A thunderstorm brought the back speakers to life, and that was the main scene that used them. The various elements contributed a fair sense of atmosphere, usually for beach scenes. In the front, the mix featured decent stereo imaging for the music, while the effects spread naturally to the sides. Not much happened here, but the audio was satisfactory for this sort of flick.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was consistently accurate and firm. I noticed no problems like edginess or a lack of clarity. Music appeared bright and acceptably lively, with reasonably good range. Effects mostly played a minor role, but they sounded acceptably detailed and distinctive and also offered decent bass when appropriate. Nothing much of the soundtrack stood out, but this was a workable mix overall.

For the DVD’s supplements, the most significant material comes from two separate audio commentaries. The first features director Nancy Meyers, actor Diane Keaton and producer Bruce A. Block. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat, though Keaton doesn’t show up until about a third of the way through the film; she arrives during the scene in which Erica and Harry first walk on the beach. Keaton also leaves around the end of the second act; she departs around the time of Erica’s crying jag.

Keaton does little to alter the dynamic of this track, as it starts slow and continues that way after she enters. Meyers dominates the discussion, though that doesn’t mean she gives us tons of good information. At times, the writer/director does offer some nice notes. I like the bits where she talks about details of clothes and set design since they neatly reveal concepts connected to the characters. She also goes into editing choices and cut material plus some nuts and bolts of the production process. Keaton and Block say little. The actor mainly expresses her embarrassment over various scenes, and Block mostly just sits there, though he does chip in a little more after Keaton splits. Not a ton of dead air occurs, but enough gaps show up to cause some frustration. A few intriguing tidbits emerge during this track, but overall it seems dull and uninformative.

On the second audio commentary, we hear from director Meyers and actor Jack Nicholson, both of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. I believe this is Nicholson’s first commentary of this sort; if I recall correctly, the track for As Good As It Gets included separate interviews cut together. After the dull piece with Keaton, I feared this one might fall flat as well. Happily, it lives up to high expectations.

While Meyers dominated the first commentary, she definitely takes a back seat here, as this one’s mainly Jack’s show. Not that the director doesn’t speak, as she chimes in frequently; however, the program’s much more focused on Nicholson’s thoughts than hers, and they concentrate on actor-related issues. We get many nice notes about the film. Nicholson discusses many of his choices and impressions of the characters. We learn a lot about various decisions and get a nice background for the creation of the movie. Frankly, the level of information doesn’t seem intense, for we don’t find a tremendous discussion of a broad series of topics, but the conversation moves briskly and seems engaging. Just enough insight pops up along the way to make it informative. The pair display a nice chemistry and interact well to make this track lots of fun.

After these, only some minor extras appear. The Hamptons House Set Tour with Amanda Peet runs a mere two minutes, 49 seconds. It offers exactly what it states, as we follow Peet around the home. She shows us some of the details and talks about a few of the crew members she encounters. It seems marginally interesting but nothing more than that.

One deleted scene shows up as well. Entitled “Harry Sings Karaoke to Erica”, it lasts two minutes, 54 seconds. Presented non-anamorphic 1.85:1, it shows more of the burgeoning romance between Erica and Harry. It would have been redundant in the final flick, so I’m glad they cut it.

In regard to the DVD’s deleted scenes, I have a complaint. During the first commentary, Meyers discusses lot of material cut from the final film, including many scenes that almost made the completed version. With all that excised material, why do we only get one crummy deleted scene? The set should have included much more than this.

The DVD opens with trailers for 13 Going on 30, Big Fish, Spider-Man 2 and Secret Window. Those ads also appear in the DVD’s “Previews” domain along with promos for Something’s Gotta Give, The Company, As Good As It Gets, America’s Sweethearts, Anger Management and Sleepless In Seattle. Lastly, we get filmographies for writer/director Nancy Meyers, producer Bruce A. Block, and actors Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, and Amanda Peet.

Something’s Gotta Give ran the danger of turning into a cheesy and sentimental fantasy for middle-aged women. Happily, the flick mostly skirts those potential flaws as it provides a winning and amusing piece. Unfortunately, the DVD demonstrates rather mediocre picture and sound plus a set of extras that seems fairly lackluster despite the presence of a pretty fun commentary with Jack Nicholson. Give this one a rental.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9354 Stars Number of Votes: 31
7 3:
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