Most romantic film #57: Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

This comedy is a delightful look at middle-aged love, without being trite, predictable or stereotyped.

Of course, the major reason for that is the script–written by Nancy Meyers–and the direction–also by Meyers–and the careful producing–Meyers, again–that shapes the gorgeous stage picture and well-structured plot.

Yes, this is the first film where Meyers took on all three roles, although she had been writing successful scripts since 1980’s Private Benjamin with Goldie Hawn. Her first directing gig was The Parent Trap, the 1998 remake that remains one of my favorite remakes ever. Meyers’ trademark seems to films with major female stars that are also elegant and stylish comic vehicles. Not a bad rep.

Something’s Gotta Give is the story of successful playwright Erica Barry, played by Diane Keaton. Barry’s daughter Marin Klein (played by Amanda Peete) is dating an older man, Harry Sanborn, a successful music mogul and notorious dater of younger women. Sanborn is played by Jack Nicholson. Marin invited Harry to spend the weekend with her–with the intention of finally “getting it on”. But not only is Amanda in residence, but so is her sister Zoe, played by Frances McDormand. Over a somewhat uncomfortable dinner, when Harry and Marin retire to the bedroom to consummate their relationship, Harry has a heart attack.

At the hospital, Harry meets his doctor, Julian (Keanu Reeves). Julian turns out to be a huge fan of playwright Barry and charmingly flirts with her, ignoring the age-appropriate Marin.

Stuck on his back but wanting out of the hospital Harry comes to live in Amanda’s house, and the two form an uneasy friendship. For the first time, Harry is forced to deal with a middle-aged woman (one with looks, brains and a killer house on the beach). Marin breaks up with Harry and heads back to New York. Harry heals slowly, while Amanda comes to like him more and more.

Finally, Harry and Amanda “get it on,” in a wonderful scene that manages to be both sexy and comic, as two people on the north side of forty-five deal with that scenario.

But… being Harry, he departs the morning after. But he’ll call her. Riiiiiiight.

Amanda responds to her daughter’s call: he ex-husband, Marin’s father, is remarrying (a much younger woman) and Marin is devastated. At the restaurant where Amanda, Marin, her ex and his fiancee have dinner, Amanda sees Harry with, predictably, a much younger woman. Now, she is devastated.

After indulging in bouts of crying, Amanda writes what turns out to be a brilliant comic pieces about Harry and his quirks. At the same time, Julian comes back into her life and sweeps her off her feet and into bed.

Not to give anything away, but the triangle of Harry, Amanda and Julian develops interestingly and th film concludes in Paris, my favorite city.

It is stylish, elegant, hilarious and well-acted. I would couple it with It’s Complicated, the Meryl Streep/Alec Baldwin/Steve Martin comedy that is the West Coast version of this comedy (in a way), and is just as elegant. Both are great “date” films or girls’ night out films, combined with a nice bottle of wine and some tasty dishes. Lots of healthy laughter involved.


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