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Something's Gotta Give

It's nice to know that romance doesn't end after 55. So many romantic comedies focus on people in their 20s through early 40's, while singles in their 50's and 60's (who are still alive, damn it!) are not deemed worthy of romance. Especially women.

It's the same old argument that women get old while men get distinguished. A man can be virile and sexy until he's older'n God, but a woman is useless after menopause. Blah blah blah. Well I gotta say that Diane Keaton looks way better naked than Jack Nicholson does, and while Jack canoodling with Amanda Peet made me a bit nauseous, Keaton and Keanu Reeves' sweet flirtation I found rather charming.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Here's the rundown. Jack Nicholson plays Harry Langer, a skirt-chaser famous for never dating a woman over thirty. He and current pet Marin Barry are taking a little trip to her mom's house in the Hamptons, where they plan to, uh…consummate their relationship. Um…ew? Amanda Peet plays Marin. Leggy, coltish and cute, it's clear that Harry is an old pro when it comes to women like her.

Author's note: Peet's character pronounces her name MARE-in, accent on the first syllable. Us folk on the west coast would likely say ma-RIN, on the second syllable, "Like the county…" as I've been saying my whole life. Curse you, Nancy Meyers!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand… Predictably, Marin and Harry are interrupted by Keaton as playwright Erica Barry, and Erica's sister Zoe, the always fun Frances McDormand. After a particularly tense dinner, with Women's Studies professor Zoe exploring the psychology behind Harry's behavior, Harry and Marin, um, retire.

Harry suffers a pre-coital heart attack, is rushed to the hospital, and treated by Keanu Reeves as Dr. Julian Mercer. Dr. Mercer prescribes bed rest, and forbids Harry to leave town, trapping him with Erica. We also see the beginning of an attraction between Dr. Mercer and Erica, which takes them both a bit by surprise.

What follows is pretty standard romantic comedy fare. Erica and Harry fall for each other after being in close quarters for a few days. Julian pursues Erica, feigning ignorance of her growing relationship with Harry. Marin kinda drifts in an out of the movie like the plot device she is.

Both Keaton and Nicholson are wonderful in their roles. If the parts weren't written for them specifically in mind, it would have been inspired casting, but for one flaw. Separately each was spectacular, together, I saw no chemistry. Primarily I couldn't imagine what Erica saw in Harry, other than he was the first man who'd shown interest in her in years. In fact, I spent most of the movie rooting for the underdog, Keanu.

The supporting players were strong, but no match for the leads. Next to Diane Keaton, Amanda Peet looks childish and callow; which to her credit, I believe is intentional. Reeves is warm and sweet, and his character's adoration of Erica adds a subtle richness to the story. Kinda like a fresh cinnamon roll. Keanu has very nearly redeemed himself in my eyes. Please, Keanu! Do more comedies! You're so charming in them!

Harry's journey to realizing he was in love, combined with Erica's immediate knowledge and inability to act on it made for some amazingly rich performances. The depth of skill and talent that Keaton and Nicholson possess is awe-inspiring, I just am not sure they're all that good together.

Then again, it could just be that deep-seated phobia all young people nurture of their parents ever having sex. I know it happens, I just don't want to think about it.


Marin Carpenter

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