Something's Gotta Give (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Unlike all the over-touted serious films of the past month or so, this is the type of film that Hollywood knows how to make. The studios should leave the suicide and dead children movies to the indies and Europeans, and deliver the escapist material that made Hollywood the dream factory in the first place.

Something's Gotta Give is a romantic comedy, not entirely generated by probable circumstances, but pulled off with charm and panache.

Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton play two accomplished professionals, a record producer and a playwright respectively, who meet when Nicholson shows up at Keaton's house in the Hamptons, as the escort of Keaton's daughter (Amanda Peet). Nicholson has a minor heart attack and won't stay in the hospital, so is not allowed to move from Keaton's home for several days. Peet heads back to her life, and Keaton is stuck playing nursemaid to The Joker. Keaton is an uptight woman who wears turtlenecks in summer. Nicholson is a relaxed, jolly soul. Keanu Reeves is on hand as Nicholson's doctor, who happens to be Keaton's biggest fan, and falls in love with her.

The table is set.

Nicholson's record producer is a lot like some of the Nicholson characters of old, yet the subtle differences make it a beautiful piece of characterization. He's not smarmy, or snide, or even full of mischief. He's not even that feisty. He's just a fun loving guy, with a big genuine laugh, and a real love of life. Unlike Nicholson's usual roles, he's not self-amused, but simply amused. Although he is pictured as a womanizer, and he makes some comments that the older women find offensive, he's not at all a shameless roué. He's not even any good at sex, and he hasn't managed to get Peet in the sack yet. Younger women just like hanging around him because he's genuine, and he's always fun. Nicholson is perfect in this role, perhaps because he is playing himself, or perhaps because he is a genius in front of a lens.

There are some great laughs, especially in the first half.

At one point Nicholson had a heart attack when he tried to have sex with Peet:

Doctor: Are you taking Viagra?

(Women appear in the hallway. Nicholson sees them, knows they can hear the conversation.)

Nicholson: No, of course not. I don't need Viagra.

Doctor: Good. I just needed to know if you had taken Viagra today, because the IV I just gave you, when mixed with Viagra, is potentially fatal.

(Nicholson rips IV from his arm.)

Good to see Diane Keaton back on top. I met her once, at a book fair in Dallas in the mid 80s. She was amazingly humble and gracious considering that (1) I was just some schmuck attending a book fair and she was Annie Hall (2) I was a complete asshole and insulted her book. Well, not really, but kinda. She was there to hawk her book "Reservations", which consisted of her own photographs of hotel lobbies, and amazingly, I was the only one at her booth. I told her that I loved her book and that she was an incredibly talented photographer, which was true, but I added gratuitously that it was overpriced and wouldn't sell many copies because not many people are really that excited about hotel lobbies, no matter who the photographer might be. I was right, of course, but I should learn when to shut the hell up. She was taken aback when I asked her to lend me twenty bucks so I had enough to buy the book, but she recovered when she caught on that I was kidding, and accepted my criticism of the price graciously, even signing a bunch of stuff for my wife.


Diane Keaton - brief, but clear full frontal.

Jack Nicholson - buns

Amanda Peet - areolae visible through bra.

DVD info from Amazon

  • two audio commentaries

  • one deleted scene (see below)

  • a tour of the house in the Hamptons

  • widescreen anamorphic transfer 1.85:1

Is she a great actress? I don't know. I've always found her mannerisms very repetitious, and that kind of unharnessed duplication can be irritating, but she certainly does the things necessary for a role, and that's what the great ones do. There is a scene where Nicholson accidentally sees her naked while he's convalescing in her house. In the hands of a less courageous actress, this would have been a bullshit head-and-shoulders shot of Keaton from Nicholson's POV, and a very minimal laugh because it has been done a zillion times before. Keaton, however, did the full frontal nudity necessary to make it one of the most memorable comic moments in screen history, as well as to create a real buzz about the film, of the kind that the marketing department loves - all while keeping a PG-13 rating. Ladies and gents, that is how to keep the money department and the creative department on the same page, but more important, that is how great performers approach a role, doing whatever they need to do to get it right. So hats off to Miss Keaton for baring it all at age 57 - and for looking just fine while doing so. Annie Hall, I still love ya, and I'd even buy your book now if it were still in print.
Brief additional notes on the DVD:

There is one deleted scene. It is utterly charming. Nicholson and Keaton go to a karaoke place and he sings "La Vie en Rose" to her. Although he is not such a great singer, he is a great actor and a very talented mimic and he stayed in tune reasonably well, so when he sang in French he sounded just like Maurice Chevalier. I know the film was already much too long for a romantic comedy, but if I had been the director, I would have left the scene in.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus: three stars. Ebert 3.5/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4.

  • British consensus: between two stars and two and a half stars. Daily Mail 8/10, Daily Telegraph 3/10, Independent 4/10, The Guardian 2/10, The Times 6/10, The Sun 7/10, The Express 8/10, The Mirror 8/10, BBC 2/5

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 7.0/10, Yahoo voters call it a B.
  • Box Office Mojo. It opened in the #1 position, but soon faced ROTK square in the face. It finally settled in at an excellent $124 million in the USA, and was almost equally strong overseas, earning another $111 million. The production budget was $80 million.

Miscellaneous ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a B-. Terrific romantic comedy for grown up audiences, with strong mass market appeal. Nicholson exhibits more charm than any man should have a right to.

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