Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Something’s Gotta Give



USA 2003 : Nancy MEYERS : 128 mins

For months Somethings Gotta Give was known simply as Untitled Nancy Meyers Project. Only at the very last minute did studio bigwigs settle on a proper title – and apparently writer-director Meyers wasn’t too happy at their bland choice. Judging by the publicity material on both sides of the Atlantic, meanwhole youd probably be forgiven for thinking the film was actually called Jack & Diane, so loudly do the posters trumpet the megastar casting of Mr Nicholson and Mr Keaton a reference, of course, to Steve Earles classic song of blue-collar romance.

Not that there’s anything remotely proletarian about Somethings Gotta Give: this is a romantic comedy populated by the rich and famous, set mostly in a Long Island beach-house of serious size and opulence. Its the holiday home of ultra-successful playwright Erica Barry (Keaton), a divorcee who, at the age of 53, is reluctantly resigned to a middle-age of involuntary celibacy. Until, that is, over the course of an eventful weekend, she meets not one but two potential beaux: 63-year-old record-company magnate Harry (Nicholson), an incorrigible, sunglasses-wearing lecher who’s been seeing Ericas daughter (Amanda Peet); and 36-year-old dishy doctor Julian (Keanu Reeves). Romantic and comic complications ensue.

At 128 minutes, Somethings Gotta Give is awfully long for what it is. Because, though commercially very savy, Meyers (last film: What Women Want) isn’t any great shakes as either a writer or director. This time she serves up a sloppily-structured, fluffily insubstantial wannabe-farce that’s really just a vehicle for Keaton and Nicholson to do what they do. And, of course, they do it very well especially Keaton, who has the meatier of the two roles at the centre of what amounts to wish-fulfilment fantasy for women of a certain age everywhere (Meyers is 54). Its fitfully entertaining, intermittently amusing, occasionally even a little charming – the more mature and well-heeled sections of the moviegoing public will lap it up. But compared with what the leads have done before (as when Jack & Diane last teamed up, for 1981s Reds) Somethings Gotta Give is minor stuff indeed.

27th January, 2004
(seen 24th January : Cineworld, Milton Keynes CinemaDays event)

by Neil Young

Buy Something’s Gotta Give on DVD