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SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE (article first published : 2004-03-23)

Teaming Oscar-winners Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton for the first time since Warren Beatty's plodding and over-rated Reds some 23 years ago, the glossy new romantic comedy Something’s Gotta Give has a very funny trailer. This, along with the calibre of its stars and its Academy Award nomination for Keaton, make it a film of great promise, its rather clunky title notwithstanding.

Sadly, however, entertaining though it is, and well-made and impressively acted as it is, it leaves one curiously disappointed, the problem coming in some silly plot moves, a sluggish mid-section and a finale that's manipulative and more than a little implausible. Still, there are certainly sparkling moments, particularly with Nicholson taking the mickey out of his own public persona as Harry, a 63-year-old bachelor who is the cool owner of a successful record company churning out hip hop hits.

Harry has never gone out with a woman his own age. In fact, when a woman hits 30 he considers her over the hill and drops her, shuffling on to his next conquest. His latest affair is a sexy auctioneer (Amanda Peet) with whom he plans a dirty weekend at the fancy beach house of her playwright mother, Erica (Keaton).

The problem is that when they arrive at the house, they discover Erica is already there with a friend (the fabulous Frances McDormand), which rather spoils things. To make matters worse for poor old Harry he has a heart attack and his cardiologist, Julian (a surprisingly charming Keanu Reeves), suggests he convalesce under Erica's reluctant care rather than travel back to the Big Apple with Marin.

More complications arise when Julian starts to fall for Erica at about the same time Harry, against all he's ever believed in, starts to develop sudden feelings for her as well. And when Erica, bewildered but flattered by young Julian's attention, starts to also feel the first trickle of feelings for Harry, it throws up a series of comic possibilities in a battle of the sexes.

Written and directed by Nancy Myers, who gave us The Parent Trap and What Women Want - and marking the first time Nicholson has ever been under the guidance of a female director - the film will certainly offer some out-loud chuckles. And all the performers - including the usually wooden Reeves - are on good form, although I'm not sure I would rate Keaton's as Oscar-worthy. Rating 6/10. - Billy Suter




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