For some reason I always find myself going easy on Nancy Meyer, and if I trace the reason I’d probably end up at Something’s Gotta Give - a film I’d easily place somewhere in my top ten of 2003. The thing is – I often feel as if I’m alone when it comes to appreciating the somewhat atypical romantic comedy. In retrospect Something’s Gotta Give’s sleight of hand (focusing on the mother of the romantic heroine instead of said presumed heroine) is not as inventive as it likes to think, but I’m damned if I don’t find it fresh and enjoyable nonetheless. A young woman brings home an older man and due to medical problems her mother ends up looking after him. The ending is probably obvious from the inception, but no matter - Something’s Gotta Give still has a whole lot to give (weak pun, I agree).
It seems like a non-argument to lament on it, but it’s a rare thing seeing two thespians, both over sixty, helming a film. It’s even less likely to see such a film that is not a drama focusing on inevitable loss of life (or parental woes). A romantic comedy for the aged? Unlikely. What’s more unlike her latest feature, which I just couldn’t love, Something’s Gotta Give doesn’t get its bearings from seeing older folks act like children. Sure, Nicholson’s playboy is still holding on to his youth – but he’s definitely an old chap and of course the always luminous Diane Keaton is wonderful just because she’s so mature. I think I’ve intimated as much before, but Keaton effortlessly stands out as my favourite female performance of 2003. Moreover, I’d find it difficult to say just what makes me so impressed with Keaton’s outing here. She’s a talented comedienne, that much is a given. She’s arguably the best of her era at comedy (even more than Dench and Sarandon and Streep and Mirren), but she’s so often in those horrendous comedies we tend to forget. The odd bits of subtlety in Something’s Gotta Give always surprise, and then Keaton is just doing so much to make her Erica deliciously interesting while still retaining that bit of weirdness.
It doesn’t take a genius to tell you that the third act of Something’s Gotta Give is not as tight as its previous too. Then, there’s just the slight feeling that Meyers solution to all the drama (albeit, comedic drama) is just a little too rote, but I will occasionally let those issues go because of the gusto with which the entire thing is created. Something’s Gotta Give probably started out as a foray in two Oscar greats working alongside each other, but it turns into a one woman show. Sure, Amanda Peet and Frances McDormand offer nice supporting bits, sure Jack Nicholson is surprisingly emotive at times and yes Keanu Reeves is shockingly on par with his cast – but this is all Diane Keaton. From the first shot we’re enamoured with this woman. Meyers is lucky she got such a talent; with her Something’s Gotta Give turns into more than the sum of its parts.
Am I too effusive with praise? What do you think of Keaton and Something’s Gotta Give?