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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Something's Gotta Give
Something's Gotta Give
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG-13 // March 30, 2004
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 8, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:



"Shmucks are people too, ya know."

Continuing to make overlong films that somehow attract ridiculously high-talent casts, director Nancy Meyers somehow manages to make a 100-minute romantic comedy into a 128-minute one. The picture stars Jack Nicholson as Harry Langer, a 63-year-old music exec who's one of the heads of a rap label (a joke that should have been mined a little more) and famous for dating women much younger than himself. As the film opens, Harry is trying to romance Marin Barry (Amanda Peet), the much-younger daughter of famed playwright, Erica (Keaton), at her mother's beach house.

The two are interrupted before things even begin by the arrival of Erica and her sister, Zoe (Frances McDormand). After a rather awkward introduction, the four spend the rest of the day together, with a nice - if rather sharp-witted - dinner and, unfortunately, a mild heart attack for Harry. After a brief hospital stay, Harry returns to Erica's house to rest. Zoe and Marin go into the city, leaving Erica and Harry alone together.

Of course, the two don't exactly get along well at first, but it's no surprise that things start to change. Unfortunately, when Harry finally realizes his feelings, he finds that he's got competition from Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), his much younger doctor from the E.R.

A film without any sort of surprises, the picture is largely saved by Nicholson, who turns in a performance that is full-on "Jack". The performance is a fascinating blend of smirks, crushed ego, rebirthed charm and curiosity about the world around him, noted by raised eyebrows that seem to be trying to scout out things before he arrives. Nicholson's delivery is easy and fun, turning lines that are like above-average sitcom fluff into gems.

Keaton's a nice comic foil for Nicholson, although she never quite gets as sharply into the battle of mis-matched personalities that must take place before the two realize they're meant for each other. McDormand is completely wasted, given one really nice monologue that she delivers superbly, then never seen again. Peet, looking beautiful once again, finds herself in the role of attractive plot device, although she does work well in her scenes with Nicholson and Keaton. The less said about Reeves's performance the better, as the actor has never been quite so bland or found himself in a role this thankless (not only is thankless, but it keeps piling on the thanklessness the longer the movie goes.)

As good as its cast can sometimes be, "Something's Gotta Give" eventually starts to wear out its welcome. It arrives at a moment where it's very clear things should begin to wrap themselves up, then starts down a tedious third act, which focuses on Harry's "revisiting" of his past, a new play and eventually, a trip to Paris. It's unnecessary, and just feels like padding on an already overlong running time.

Despite some concerns, this was probably the film that I've liked most from Meyers. Her character's actions sometimes still feel artificial, there are some contrived plot twists, her ability to trim the fat is still apparent and in technical terms, this is still shot like television, despite the addition of "Gangs of New York" cinematographer Michael Ballhaus. Yet, there's some very funny lines scattered about, delivered superbly by the cast. Nicholson and Keaton also have excellent chemistry. I also appreciated the film's somewhat anti-smoking stance.

Ultimately, this is a mildly entertaining picture that mostly coasts along. There's some great moments, some mildly enjoyable ones and a few that are just nice chuckles. One can't help but feel, however, that it could have been a classic if Meyers hadn't stuck so strongly to formula.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Something's Gotta Give" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Shot in slightly soft focus by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, a fine level of detail is apparent, but the picture never seems especially well-defined.

Edge enhancement is never an issue here, which made for a very enjoyable viewing experience. However, I was rather surprised to see the appearance of some scattered specks on the print used, given how recent a film this is. Compression artifacts or other faults weren't noticed, though.

SOUND: "Something's Gotta Give" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is clearly a "comedy" mix, as it leans to the front speakers for nearly the entire running time. Surrounds are put to little use throughout the picture, aside from maybe a little bit of musical reinforcement here and some light, barely perceptable ambience there. Hans Zimmer's pleasant, slightly corny score sounds very nice presented across the front speakers, while dialogue remained clear and natural-sounding throughout.

EXTRAS: There are two commentaries included on the DVD. The first is a track with writer/director Nancy Meyers and star Jack Nicholson. The two have been recorded together for this track, and a commentary with Nicholson is as good as you'd expect. Calling Meyers "chief" and settling into his usual persona, the actor provides a fun running discussion of working with the other actors and thoughts on the material, while also sharing jokes about himself and stories from the set. The other commentary is from actress Diane Keaton, writer/director Nancy Meyers and producer Bruce Block. This is more of a technical track, as Meyers and Block do the majority of the talking, chatting about going for the "look" of the movie, working with the actors and some of the production challenges. Keaton occasionally chimes in with some fun chat about being on-set, creating her character and playing against Nicholson.

A deleted scene with Nicholson singing to Keaton in a karaoke bar is funny, but I'll go with Bill Murray's "Lost in Translation" vocal stylings as a better karaoke moment. Also included in the supplemental section is a "Hamptons House Set Tour" featurette where actress Amanda Peet offers a look around the place. Rounding out the extras are cast/crew filmographies and trailers for: "Something's Gotta Give", "13 Going On 30", "Spider-Man 2", "Big Fish", "Anger Management", "America's Sweethearts", "Sleepless in Seattle", "As Good As It Gets", "The Company" and "Secret Window".

Final Thoughts: "Something's Gotta Give" is generally entertaining and light, with two great lead performances, but boy, does it start to feel long towards the last third (the film should be called "Something's Gotta Give...Eventually"). Columbia/Tristar's DVD edition provides very good audio/video quality, along with a few solid extras. Recommended.

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