Sat December 13, 2003
Something's Gotta Give
A romantic comedy American cinema can be proud of.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
In "Something's Gotta Give," Jack Nicholson plays a wealthy music magnate capably aided by National Board of Review winner Diane Keaton as a mid-fifty year old playwright with a young daughter dating Jack.
Francoise Ozon explored a menopausal writer in "Swimming Pool," but writer/director Nancy Meyers ("What Women Want") spins this one with wit, allowing Jack to fall in love with Keaton and Keaton to display her youthful figure and humor while falling in love with Jack. (Notice my awareness that even in 2003 the Diane character has to have a youthful figure while Jack looks like a bowling pin.)
I specifically use the actors' names because the characters seem almost to have been crafted out of these famous actors' lives, Jack the naughty cutup and Diane the ever-ditzy-but-loveable "Annie-Hall" former girlfriend of Woody Allen. When Jack says, "Some say I'm an expert on the younger woman -- since I've been dating them for 40 years," there is no need to try to separate his life from his character--the two are one.
"Something's Gotta Give" is a romantic comedy American cinema can be proud of as it navigates the shoals of May-December dysfunction and middle age romance-renewal. However, it is long by about 20 minutes; that's about the time it takes to get our protagonists back together again after a split and Jack's return to dating younger women. The plot complication of Keanu Reeves playing a young doctor in love with the older Keaton is a nice twist but hampered by his limited acting range and egregious good looks.
The film is also moralistic as too many films and articles are about those who date out of their age range. It will take gargantuan efforts to erase the Hollywood mindset that women over 40 are not desirable and that old men must be indulged for their sexual immaturity-- this film at least makes a smart effort.
In the course of their courtship, Jack tells Diane, "I have never lied to you. I have always told you some version of the truth." This sophisticated film doesn't always tell the needed version of the truth about mature love, but it comes closer than Rock Hudson and Doris Day attempts.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm.