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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Something's Gotta Give (2003)

"So, the whole over 50 dating scene is geared towards men leaving older women out. And, as a result, the women become more and more productive—and therefore, more and more interesting. Which, in turn, makes them even less desirable, because, as we know, men—especially older men—are threatened and deathly afraid of productive and interesting women. It is just so clear! Single older women, as a demographic, are about as f***ed a group as can ever exist!"
- Zoe Barry (Frances McDormand)

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: March 15, 2004

Stars: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau
Director: Nancy Meyers

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and strong language
Run Time: 02h:08m:11s
Release Date: March 30, 2004
UPC: 043396013025
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B+A-A- C+

DVD Review

Who says women over 50 can't find love? Sure, most eligible older men hotly pursue females half their age, pop Viagra like Tic-Tacs, ignore their skyrocketing cholesterol, and carry plenty of emotional baggage. But Something's Gotta Give proves it's still possible for widows, divorcées, even spinsters to find that needle in the romantic haystack—if, like Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), they're willing to peel back enough layers of the proverbial onion. Something's Gotta Give glorifies and celebrates the mature woman while thumbing its nose at a youth-obsessed society that worships physical perfection and largely ignores the beauty of the soul.

And it's Keaton's inner beauty that radiates throughout this sweet, life-affirming, but ultimately flat romantic comedy. Unfortunately, Nancy Meyers' film never scales the heights we expect from its fine cast and slick production values. Like its engaging characters, we root for the movie to grab our heart and win us over, but its meandering style and forced humor make us rue its thwarted potential instead. Reminiscent of Meyers' previous Mel Gibson comedy, What Women Want, Something's Gotta Give is rife with situation and conflict, but spends too much time flirting with issues instead of attacking them head-on. What should have been a sharp, witty, pointed 90-minute comedy is languorously stretched into an almost epic romance with an unwarranted self-important air.

When Marin Barry (Amanda Peet) brings her much older playboy lover, Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), to her family's summer home in The Hamptons to finally consummate their relationship, the unexpected arrival of mother Erica (Keaton) and Aunt Zoe (Frances McDormand) throws a crimp in the couple's erotic plans. The four endure a strained dinner marked by thunderous ideological differences before Harry collapses from a mild heart attack. At the emergency room, Harry's doctor, Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), becomes enamored of Erica, a successful (and divorced) Broadway playwright who's resigned herself to a lonely, loveless life. Erica is flattered by Julian's interest, but leery of becoming romantically involved with a younger man. Meanwhile, plagued by lingering symptoms, a cranky Harry recuperates in Erica's home à la The Man Who Came to Dinner, and the two strike up a surprising friendship that belies their oil-and-water personalities.

That friendship blossoms into love, but when Harry's health improves, he resumes his whirlwind life as a New York City record producer—and reverts to his habitual pursuit of nubile sexpots. Devastated by his betrayal, Erica at first retreats inward, funneling her experiences into a new play. Yet after an appropriate interval, Julian comes calling again, and Erica accepts his affections. Harry, however, begins to realize letting Erica go was a colossal mistake, and seeks to reclaim the jewel he cast away.

Something's Gotta Give, like Meyers' other films, often suffers from a cloying saccharine quality that dilutes the many smart aspects of its plot. A cross between a TV sitcom and movie-of-the-week, the film (despite Meyers' lovely visual sense) never merits its lavish big screen treatment, and only such seasoned professionals as Keaton, Nicholson, and McDormand can rescue the contrived story.

Although Nicholson contributes a strong portrayal, Something's Gotta Give is Keaton's film all the way, and Meyers hands it to her on a silver platter. Interesting, intelligent and vivacious, Keaton instantly transforms herself into a sex symbol for middle-aged men—and it's not just her much ballyhooed, blink-and-you'll-miss-it nude scene that lofts her into that category. Yes, at 57, Keaton is physically well preserved, but she's also exceedingly natural and hasn't the slightest compunction about looking her age on film. What you see is what you get, and seemingly no attempts are made to smooth over wrinkles or touch up graying hair. Her infectious charm seduces us from the opening frame, and we can utterly understand Julian's attraction to and fascination with her.

Nicholson spoofs his own rascally, womanizing image to great effect, but wisely stifles his patented mannerisms, and the result is a sensitive, understated portrayal. His chemistry with Keaton is relaxed and intimate, which lends the film a welcome coziness, and allows us to revel in the palpable impact of Hollywood star power. Sadly, the always marvelous McDormand is wasted in a throwaway role, but makes it nonetheless memorable with an energy, spirit, and precision most of her contemporaries lack. Peet also impresses, proving she's far more than a pretty face with her wise, mature performance.

And in the end, it's the performances that make Something's Gotta Give worth watching. To quote John Cougar Mellencamp, Meyers' film is just "a little ditty 'bout Jack and Diane," and the two stars prove yet again their magnetism remains potent enough to carry a mediocre movie.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Mastered in high definition, Something's Gotta Give looks crisp and vibrant on DVD, with exceptional detail, vivid colors, and solid contrast predominating. In fact, image quality is so good, processed shots are easily identifiable, which detracts a bit from the realism of a few scenes. Although we learn during the commentary tracks that foul weather sabotaged the production at every turn, Meyers still manages to capture the beauty of the seaside setting, with the blue ocean water and lush green foliage adding to the film's warm feel. Accurate, natural skin tones also contribute to this fine transfer's lifelike look, and only a few isolated specks mar the presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: For a romantic comedy, the DD 5.1 track is surprisingly active and enveloping. Ambient effects are subtle but often noticeable, while Hans Zimmer's score (which suspiciously resembles his themes for Matchstick Men) and a wide variety of upbeat incidental music play nicely across all five channels. Dialogue is always clear and comprehendible, and levels remain well-balanced throughout.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
9 Other Trailer(s) featuring Big Fish, 13 Going On 30, Secret Window, Spider-Man 2, Anger Management, America's Sweethearts, Sleepless in Seattle, As Good As It Gets, The Company
1 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by writer/director Nancy Meyers, actress Diane Keaton, and producer Bruce A. Block; and writer/director Nancy Meyers and actor Jack Nicholson
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01h:10m:10s

Extras Review: Columbia skimps a bit in the extras department, offering a truckload of trailers, but little else of interest. A touching deleted scene showcases Nicholson singing karaoke to Keaton (and doing a darn good job!), while the disc's sole featurette is a slapdash, intensely vapid two-and-a-half-minute tour of The Hamptons house set hosted by Amanda Peet.

Two audio commentaries, both of which feature writer-director Nancy Meyers, are also included. (Why she felt compelled to participate twice remains a mystery, although she remarkably avoids repetition.) The first commentary also includes limited insights from producer Bruce A. Block and a cameo appearance by Keaton, who shows up at the 42-minute mark and departs 90 minutes later. Meyers dominates the conversation and provides plenty of fascinating information, even criticizing some of her directorial choices. She calls Keaton "intrinsically funny" and rhapsodizes over her performance, as well as the work of the rest of the cast. She also addresses such dilemmas as how to make a heart attack both real and funny, and how to tell a mother-daughter story within the context of a romantic comedy. In addition, many deleted scenes are discussed, but maddeningly are not included on the disc. (Shame on you, Columbia!) Keaton provides self-effacing charm and cogent perspective, and it's shame she makes such a limited contribution.

The second commentary pairs Meyers with Nicholson, who at first sounds like he just rolled out of bed, with his breathy basso voice resembling that of a late night radio disc jockey. Still, it's a treat to hear Nicholson's views, and listen to him verbally spar with Meyers, who obviously adores him. Most of this track's comments focus on acting, and Nicholson talks about how he relishes the experimental freedom the film medium provides. He also appreciates the chemistry he shared with Keaton, remarking, "If any two actors have that quality together, we do."

Both commentaries are worthwhile and entertaining, but should be listened to at least a few days apart for maximum enjoyment.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Fans of Nicholson and Keaton will enjoy Something's Gotta Give for the stars' unique chemistry and pitch-perfect performances. Unfortunately, the film as a whole doesn't match their excellent work. Overlong, often syrupy, and just plain trite, this ho-hum romantic comedy lacks the zip and zing necessary for success. Still, director Nancy Meyers deserves kudos for reminding us that 50 is far from fatal, and how, like fine wine, women (as well as Nicholson and Keaton) only improve with age.

 


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