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 Something's Gotta Give
 Critic's Rating
 Date Posted
   24th February, 2004
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Cast: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves
Director: Nancy Meyers

During a recent sales seminar that I attended, the speaker made reference to a bell graph that showed product lifecycles and company development where rapid initial growth is followed by a period of maturity and then inevitable slump. The only way for both companies and products to avoid this rapid decline after reaching their peak is by reinventing themselves, something which most prospering organizations are able to do incessantly. It seems Jack Nicholson's character in the new Nancy Meyer film, 'Something's gotta give', lives his life by vehemently sticking to the same maxim; he calls himself an expert on the younger female and claims he does not have a type.

Nicholson plays debaucher Harry Sanborn, a record company owner and perpetual dater of women much younger than he is. His latest catch is Marin Barry (Amanda Peet), the daughter of rich, successful and divorced playwright Erica Barry (a neurotic Diane Keaton). Harry and Marin hope to spend some quality time alone at the Barry beach house during a weekend trip, only to be unexpectedly interrupted by Erica and her sister Aunt Zoe (Frances McDormand, criminally waster here). Citing themselves as 'sophisticated' people they decide to remain together, which seems fine, until Harry has a cardiac arrest, is treated by Doctor Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), and has to stay with Erica till he recovers whilst everyone else needs to leave for the city to get on with their lives.

The premise is faithfully sitcom, but the situations are throwaway pretences while the comedy is sparse. Nicholson and Keaton here are not too different than how we expect (and have read about them being like) in their public lives. Such a premise suggests little in the way of allowing them to offer anything dramatic or comedic, since they essentially play themselves. This reduces the scenes of them conversing (and there are many, many such scenes) to having an improvisational effect. On long rainy nights, the characters prance and play like love struck teens. They talk about themselves, their mistakes and everything else that catches their fancy. This leads to some superficial psychoanalyzing building towards some tear filled confessions, probably Meyer's way of getting her stars to flex some acting muscles.

As Doctor Julian, who is instantly smitten by Erica, Reeves fairs slightly better, if only because he gets the opportunity to display a wider range of emotions than he has been allowed to present in all three of the Matrix movies combined. He is both likeable and pleasant, making it harder for the trio to reach an amicable conclusion, which also delves into romance movie conformity. Keaton's process of thawing from her initial frigid self to a deeply in love person seems rather rapid too. Nancy Meyer has a keen sense of romanticism and relationships, an ability that she used in her favour with far better results in 'What women want'. Here its usage is both tired and forced. But by the end of it all, I couldn't help but notice amusingly how much the movie's lifecycle resembled a bell graph of its own. - Faizan Rashid

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