Director: Nancy Meyers
Filmmakers have long known that a faint whiff of scandal is much more suggestive—and absorbing—than the reek of paedophilia. That's why romantic films that play on the attraction between partners of widely differing ages are nearly as old as the movies. These range from the outstanding (Mike Nichols' The Graduate, Louis Malle's Atlantic City, or Billy Wilder's The Major and the Minor) to the frankly terrible (a remarkable number of Lolita rip-offs).
Nancy Meyers' Something's Gotta Give starts out somewhere in the better half of that spectrum. Harry Sanborn (Nicholson) may be in his fifties, but he clearly has a good thing going with younger women, the latest of whom takes him to her mother's beach house for a weekend. Unfortunately, Harry suffers a heart attack, and has to stay on with his girlfriend's mother Erica Barry (Keaton). Which is where Meyer begins juggling the possibilities of the age-disparity scenario. Harry's doctor (Reeves) is already attracted to Erica. And though she and Harry seem mutually repelled at first, we discover that one's golden years needn't mean that any romantic possibilities must sink like lead, as the couple gradually fall in love.
As a screenwriter and director, Meyers has been mining the risible possibilities of family life and romance for years with films like Father of the Bride. In recent years, this has often been through tweaking an established movie cliché, with a twist in the plot. In What Women Want, for instance, Mel Gibson's romantic abilities are clearly enhanced when he discovers he can hear what women are thinking. A clever idea, but failed on screen because it seemed to turn Gibson into a sexual predator.
With Something's Gotta Give Meyers aims at the age-disparity cliché with two other cinematic chestnuts; Attraction Between Opposites and the Love Triangle. She also extracts fine performance by Keaton in particular (her fourth best actress academy nomination for the role).
The acting and the subversion of one cliché with another helps the film work better than its predecessor. But only to the extent that its subject matter is marginally more palatable. It's a bit like realising your parents also had a sex life: something to accept, but do you really want to watch?
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Courtesy: Film Information