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'Something's Gotta Give' takes refreshing look at love

| Friday, Dec. 12, 2003

Maybe this movie's an indie in disguise.

How else might one explain the story of a 50-ish divorcee who finds herself the point of a romantic triangle -- pursued by a life-long bachelor a few years her senior and a dashing doctor 20 years younger• The expectations inherent in a Hollywood-style romantic comedy are that the the protagonists be young and quite beautiful -- certainly no one would want to watch hearts and flowers swirl around people old enough to collect Social Security.

If mainstream films include older people in romantic comedies at all, they're usually the over-the-top, zany mom, dad, grandma, neighbor or whoever; or they're the wise sage who manages to conjure up what little memory they might have of a long-long-ago romance in order to give advice to the lovelorn youngsters. But let older people be the stars, the focal point of the romance• Horrors! Leave that to those crazy independent filmmakers.

But in "Something's Gotta Give," two of Hollywood's biggest stars -- with decades-long careers to match -- flirt, squabble, laugh and cry through the fits and starts of a budding romantic relationship. To make it even more interesting, there's a young doctor who enters the picture, intent on winning the older woman for himself.

Diane Keaton, svelte and silicone-free with the laugh lines to prove it, plays Erica, a 50-something playwright whose beach house in the Hamptons is an attractive playground for her daughter, Marin (Amanda Peet), and her daughter's 63-year-old boyfriend, Harry (Jack Nicholson). Harry's a lifelong playboy -- boasting that he never dates women older than 30. He likes relationships easy and uncomplicated and finds younger women more pliable and less challenging.

But when Harry has a heart attack, his doctor (Keanu Reeves) orders him to rest and not to travel. The only solution is for him to convalesce at Erica's house while the equally commitment-phobic Marin hops back to New York City. It's not long before the gruff bachelor and the resilient divorcee find they quite enjoy each others' company. And Julian, the doctor, falls hard for Erica and lets her know it in no uncertain terms -- taking her for romantic dates and calling to say he's been thinking about her all day.

It takes awhile to warm up to Keaton's character -- her portrayal of the through-with-love Erica is chilly and a bit stiff at first. Nicholson displays his usual irascible charm. And both get naked -- though the nudity is comic and fleeting, not sensual. The dialogue is natural and quite frequently funny -- Keaton and Nicholson clearly enjoy their roles and believably take their audiences along with them. And Reeves as an emergency room doctor• Well, it sounds funny when you say it out loud. But his performance as the third point in the love triangle is integral to the story. It's important that he be as convincing a love interest as Harry is, so that Erica's ultimate choice -- which won't be revealed here -- remains unclear until the end. And Reeves does a lovely job as the doctor, convincing both Erica and the audience that he'd be a good match.

To the story's credit, no character changes their outlook too quickly and neatly. At the same time, the film suffers from multiple endings -- several spots near the end of the film it seems like things are wrapping up, only to go on for another 10 minutes to another logical stopping point, and keep on going again.

The ending feels like it's gone on too long -- and the ultimate ending of the story might not be satisfying for everyone, depending on how you related to each of the three characters and at what stage you are in your own life.

But it's an enjoyable if not perfect movie about a subject too long ignored by Hollywood.

Additional Information:

Movie Details

'Something's Gotta Give'

Director : Nancy Meyers

Stars : Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Keanu Reeves

MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and strong language

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