Customer Review

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vacuous, 29 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Something's Gotta Give [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Where "Lost in Translation" showed us a complex giving relationship between an older man and a younger woman, "Something's Gotta Give" is unrepentantly nasty about such relationships, which it sees as inevitably a character flaw in the older man.

At the same time it wants to have its cake and eat it by making no such criticisms of relationships between older woman and younger men. It's not hard to see that the audience demographic for this movie is baby boom women who don't much like the idea that many men of their generation are now dating younger ones.

Jack Nicholson's Harry Langer gets criticised for his interest in younger women. Frances McDormand as a woman's studies teacher laments that older men can date younger women but that older single women can't get dates at all. A former husband, played by Paul Michael Glaser, is criticised for wanting to remarry - inevitably - a younger woman.

Yet despite that, not only does Nicholson's character finally fall for older female playwright Erica Barry, played by Diane Keaton, but so does Harry's young doctor Julian, played by Keanu Reeves. And Keanu Reeves as a doctor, and an enthusiastic and astute intellectual judge of plays, is perhaps the film's biggest single joke.

Jack Nicholson just does his Nicholson as bad boy schtick, a far remove from his superb performance in "Schmidt". Keaton gasps a lot.

It's an awful audience-pandering film, and one that will enjoyed pretty much only by precisely that sector of the female audience to which it is pandering. And it's set in a bizarre fantasy world. Doesn't writer and director Nancy Meyers know that Broadway is a highly competitive place these days, and that plays like the thing Keaton's character writes wouldn't even get an off-Broadway venue? And yet we're to believe that Erica has got filthy rich from doing this kind of stuff.

And then there's the movie's double standard, which merely reverses old sexist attitudes and replaces them with new ones. Older men and younger women bad. Older women and younger men fine. In the end though the film dissatisfies even those who uphold this new double standard. It's even more conservative than that. Date within five years of your own age people. Even some women critics, to whom you might expect this movie to appeal, have said they don't believe the final scene for a second. Neither do I.

In the nineteen-fifties Douglas Sirk directed the wonderful "All that Heaven Allows", in which a middle-aged Jane Wyman fell for a young Rock Hudson. It was a plea for openness in judging the relationships of others, and it's sometimes depressing to realise that in some ways, and particularly in some PC ways, Hollywood is more conservative now than it was in those days, merely replacing the prejudices of one era with those of another.

Like many others, I lament the fact that Hollywood puts many fine actresses out to seed too early. I do wish we had more romances involving older men AND women. I quite liked - for instance - Australian directors Paul Cox's "Innocence" which was about a love affair between two people in their seventies. But, even - or maybe especially - those of us who'd like to see movies skewed a little less to youth audiences deserve a lot better than the audience pandering of "Something's Gotta Give".
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