Something's Gotta Give

A perfect example of the power of casting to improve weak material, writer-director Nancy Meyers's romantic comedy follows the turbulent love affair of a 63-year-old lothario with a taste for younger women and a neurotic, fifty-ish playwright who's given up on men. This formulaic tale would probably be as dull as it sounds if Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton...read more

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Reviewed by Ethan Alter
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A perfect example of the power of casting to improve weak material, writer-director Nancy Meyers's romantic comedy follows the turbulent love affair of a 63-year-old lothario with a taste for younger women and a neurotic, fifty-ish playwright who's given up on men. This formulaic tale would probably be as dull as it sounds if Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton weren't playing the lovers; though they've shared the screen only once before (in 1981's REDS), their performances are so relaxed you'd swear they've been acting together forever. Harry Sanborn (Nicholson) and his latest conquest, Marin Berry (Amanda Peet), take a trip to her house in the Hamptons. But just as they're about to get down to business, Marin's mom, Erica (Keaton), and aunt, Zoe (Frances McDormand), walk in. Awkwardness ensues, the four adults agree that no one should be forced to leave, and Marin and Harry continue their plans for a romantic weekend while Zoe and Erica roll their eyes in the kitchen. That evening, however, Harry suffers a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital; he's up and around the next day, but his doctor, Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), insists he's not ready to return to the city. So over Erica's objections, Harry takes up residence in her house. And since Marin and Zoe have to go back to work, the two are stuck with each other. Things get off to a rocky start — particularly after Harry accidentally glimpses Erica naked — but the soon-to-be soulmates gradually get to know and like each other. At the same time, Erica discovers she has another suitor in the handsome — and much younger — Dr. Julian. Though filled with the kind of elaborate contrivances that only occur in movies, this gentle comedy shines when there are no plot twists or eccentric supporting characters in the way of Keaton and Nicholson's characterizations of ordinary people tentatively exploring a new relationship. Often, their interaction is so natural they don't even seem to be acting; it's as though Meyers simply turned on the camera and filmed them shooting the breeze. A whiz at crafting conventional Hollywood screenplays, Meyers's direction is overreliant on close-ups and medium shots; there's no life to any of the images. Still, the film coasts along smoothly on the charisma of its stars, and if Keaton and Nicholson aren't the hottest screen couple of the year they may be the most convincing.

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: A perfect example of the power of casting to improve weak material, writer-director Nancy Meyers's romantic comedy follows the turbulent love affair of a 63-year-old lothario with a taste for younger women and a neurotic, fifty-ish playwright who's given u… (more)

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