Romance among the AARP set in a movie is never an easy proposition, pardon the pun. The participants have to be sexy enough that the younger people in the audience don’t get all grossed out (“Gramma and Granpa are KISSING!!! With tongue!!!!”), but not too sexy. The audience wants to be swept off its feet, but it doesn’t want anything that’s overly salacious.
For the most part, writer-director Nancy Meyers succeeds here. Diane Keaton plays Erica Barry, a neurotic, highly successful playwright. Jack Nicholson plays himself. Okay, technically he plays 63-year-old Harry Sanborn, owner of a hip-hop record label and chronic womanizer.
One of the funniest scenes in the movie comes right near the beginning. Harry’s with his new squeeze Marin (Amanda Peet), at Marin’s mom’s house. There’s Harry, in his boxers and a t-shirt, putting wine in the ‘fridge, when Marin’s mom – you guessed it, Erica – unexpectedly comes home. Naturally, she thinks he’s an intruder and calls 911. I mean, wouldn’t you? It takes some explaining, but soon the misunderstanding is cleared up and our combatants (oops, participants) can get on with the romancin’.
The thrust of the story (oops, another pun) is that while fooling around with Marin upstairs, Harry suffers a heart attack. At the hospital, Dr. Mercer (an interestingly cast Keanu Reeves) admonishes the unrepentant Harry for overexerting himself and tells him not to travel for a little while. Yup, you guessed it, that means he has to bunk with Erica. And our romance is thus set up.
The good news is that pairing Keaton and Nicholson (who appeared together in 1982′s Reds) was a great, great idea. Keaton basically plays a grown-up Annie Hall, and she manages to look sexy and daffy at the same time. Nicholson, for all his bluster and creakiness, still has the panache that has served him so well for the past forty years or so.
The trouble is that after their relationship is consummated, the two leads behave like seventh graders. Now, no offense to you seventh graders out there, but you do have a tendency to get melodramatic. Admit it. In this movie, Erica spends – no exaggeration here – a good ten minutes sobbing. And sobbing. And sobbing. Everywhere and anywhere. Yikes and double yikes. For his part, Harry broods like no one’s ever brooded before, like he’s up for an Olympic medal in the event of Feeling Bummed Out. After a while, you wish these two crazy kids would just get over it. Call her! Call him! Do something!
To make matters worse for the relationship, Erica writes a play based on her experiences with Harry, complete with him dancing drunkenly in a hospital gown. Does this lady play hardball, or what?
Granted, the storyline is predictable, but the two leads are wonderful, and very well cast. Meyers wrote the script with Keaton and Nicholson in mind specifically, the decision was a wise one. Something’s Gotta Give has a funny beginning and a sweet ending, but the middle suffers from an unfortunate lag.
Something’s Gotta Give: **1/2