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something's gotta give
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Something's Gotta Give

Starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet, Keanu Reeves, Jon Favreau
Screenplay by Nancy Meyers
Produced by Nancy Meyers
Directed by Nancy Meyers

IN SHORT: Someone should give you your money back. [Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and strong language. 133 minutes]

A producer is supposed to look at a story idea or script and determine whether its good enough to raise money to make it. A writer is supposed to deliver a shooting script and a director is supposed to find the flaws in that script, so that the writer can fix 'em before shooting starts and money starts to flow. When one person handles all three jobs, and we've seen this before, no one catches the mistakes. It's called "being too close". That pretty much sums up the mess that is Something's Gotta Give.

When it is funny, which is occasionally, Nancy Meyers' Something's Gotta Give is very funny. When it has nothing better to do, which is at least three times in the course of the film, it sits its characters down at a table and plays a soundtrack song over whatever unimportant dialog is mixed way down low. That's a visual ; excuse to show characters bonding. When it is not wasting its energy and our time, desperately trying to figure out how to wrap up its subplots and get those end credits rolling, it provides a story about 63 year old single dude named Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson, click for StarTalk). Harry is a man Hugh Hefner would truly admire since he dates, and discards as frequently, bunny quality femmes all under the age of 30. Harry has begun, made successful and sold off more businesses than most people have worked for meaning that, with great success comes an abundance of fine young things looking for the big score. We mean "score" in all definitions of the word.

Currently, Harry runs the hottest hip hop record label in the country. As we meet him, he is about to herd the young and lovely Marin Barry (Amanda Peet) into the bedroom of her mom's supposedly empty Hamptons abode. (For the trivia minded, it's located at 29 Daniels Lane in one of those Hamptons towns we can't even afford to look up on a road map). The unexpected arrival of mom Erica (Diane Keaton, click for StarTalk) and aunt Zoe (Frances McDormand) put a temporary kibosh on the emergence of Harry's "Mr. Midnight" (hint hint) and anything R-rated. Since mom's a liberal, she gets over her initial revulsion and the mismatched couple head off to the sack. Before anything carnal can get in synch with the Marvin Gaye music playing on the bedroom's stereo, Harry's heart starts throbbing and Marin's vocal chords do same. His throb is not from lust. It's from pain. Hers is a cry for help. One quick 911 to the local hospital and cardiologist Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves) enters the picture, saving Harry from a minor heart attack and placing Erica smack dab in the middle of potential affairs with a much older and a much younger guy.

Since Harry doesn't want to stay in the hospital, since it's where old people go to die, Doc Mercer insists he stay someplace local until granted permission to move about. That means Erica's house, which thrills her no end (especially after the private nurse is sacked after a mere hour of duty). Oh, have we mentioned that Erica is a fabulously successful playwright, or that young Doc Mercer is a drooling fanboy of her work? Or that she has been struggling with a writer's block ever since husband David Klein (Paul Michael Glaser) became her ex? That she desperately needs some quiet time in her house to get her new play finished, even though she has no idea what the play is about? Yeah, right, real life and all those temptations would make a fine play -- with all dialog copped from life, how hard could the edit be? For his part, Harry discovers that older women are nice to have around. To generate the necessary conflict, Erica gets over the age problem and figures that a younger man isn't a bad catch, either.

In less than an hour, most of the folk under thirty began streaming for the exits. Heck, we're mid40s and we were too young for this thing. It wasn't the brief flashes of nudity on the part of both stars that did it. It was a plodding romance that forced the men out, and the ones who weren't solo got a lot of wrist action checking their watches. Meyers beats Viagra jokes into the ground. She doesn't seem to know where her character arcs are going -- at one point after Erica has finished her play she is asked what happens to the character based on Harry, and doesn't know -- and, no, she is not flustered because Harry asks the question -- either way, that's a mistake on either writer Meyers or director Meyers' part.

Let's be honest folks. Is a good Viagra joke going to make any sense to a virile 20something? Once, maybe. How about the same lame Viagra joke once it's been written into the screenplay a second and third time? Of course, there is still the unconsummated affair between Marin and Harry to be dealt with in some manner. Both old folks have their own emotional chips to deal with, and while Meyers takes care of that business with some of her most focused material, the overall film is all over the map. It's not funny enough, it's logic is tossed to the winds and even the femme portions of our audience walked out calling it stupid.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Something's Gotta Give, he would have paid . . .



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