Some films impress the audience with breathtaking effects and thrills. Some films amuse audiences with countless physical jokes, accented with crude and often lewd humor. Some films yank the emotions of the audience with multiple attempts to move viewers to tears.
“Something’s Gotta Give” is a film with no special effects, only a little physical or questionable humor, and no overt attempts to trick the emotions. “Something’s Gotta Give” is a funny, moving, impressive piece of filmmaking.
It tells the story of a lifetime bachelor, Harry Sanborn, who habitually dates much younger women. When he goes to a beach house for the weekend with his latest conquest, a woman half his age, the young woman’s mother interrupts Harry’s sexual rendezvous. Erica, the mother, is shocked that her daughter would be with a man old enough to be her father. Her immediate reaction to Harry is disgust. Through some comic events, Harry and Erica end up sharing the beach house alone. Soon each begins to discover who the other really is.
Nancy Meyers (“What Women Want”) wrote and directed “Something.” There are many humorous moments here. Some are physical, almost pratfalls, but most come through smart and often real dialogue. Erica and Harry are both intelligent, successful people who know how to use sarcasm and like to spar verbally.
The script also deals intelligently with issues of aging and how that affects romance and physical relationships. Harry is 63 but acting 35; Erica is in her mid-50s, but acting 75. Both fear growing old, but each handles it differently. Many of the things they say echo with truth, probably more so for those of the same generation as these characters.
Like most romantic comedies, “Something” has some emotional moments, but these are not forced. They are often humorous, while still packing an emotional punch. This is not a film seeking to manipulate feelings, but rather to stimulate thought. The closing moments are certainly emotional, but more importantly, they make a statement about life as one grows older.
What makes “Something” most impressive is the performances by the film’s two leads. Diane Keaton has garnered three Best Actress nominations from the Academy, and many believe this film will give her a fourth. She has not stood out like this since “Annie Hall,” her only Oscar win. Keaton makes Erica smart, strong, silly and scared all at once. Erica is the kind of person with whom one would want to be friends, only to be frustrated by her life choices.
Almost Keaton’s equal is Jack Nicholson as Harry—almost, because this is not quite the performance that Jack gave last year in the brilliant “About Schmidt.” Though some would say it is not a stretch for Nicholson to play a womanizer, the actor shines here. Every moment he and Keaton are on screen together is a treasure to behold. These are two of the best, and watching them is at least as impressive as any blue-screen effect ever created for the cinema.
Of all the films filling theaters this season, this is one worth seeking out. After all, shouldn’t everyone want a few good laughs and a little love for Christmas?
Roger Thomas is pastor of First Baptist Church in Ablemarle, N.C.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and strong language
Director: Nancy Meyers
Writer: Nancy Meyers
Cast: Harry Sanborn: Jack Nicholson; Erica Barry: Diane Keaton; Zoe Barry: Frances McDormand; Julian Mercer: Keanu Reeves; Marin: Amanda Peet; Leo: Jon Favreau; Dave: Paul Michael Glaser.
The movie’s official Web site is here.