Making the Grades
Give credit to director Nancy Meyers for handing the lead roles in her new film to mature actors--because after all, life doesn't end after 20.
Close-ups of Diane Keaton's slightly wrinkled face and aging hands don't deter from the fact that older women are still interesting, vibrant people who need love and companionship. (And anyone who looks that good in a white pair of pants deserves all the screen time she can get.) Jack Nicholson also gets billing as a 63-year-old recording executive who has his way with almost any beautiful, young woman he wants--a true sign that male actors seem to get away with paunch and baggy eyes much easier than their female counterparts.
Harry Langer's (Nicholson) current foray into the nursery finds him hooked up with a gorgeous, young auctioneer named Marin Barry (Amanda Peet). Eager to consummate their relationship, Marin invites him to her mother's beach house for the weekend, not realizing that her aunt (Frances MacDormand) and playwright mother, Erica (Keaton), are there as well.
Caught in an awkward moment, the foursome decide to spend a relaxing weekend together until a heart attack sends Harry rushing to the local hospital. Waiting in the hall, the three women are impressed by the charming good looks and bedside manner of the attending physician, Julian (Keanu Reeves) who seems especially taken with Erica, and is obviously smitten with more than her well-known plays. Sending Harry home to recuperate at Erica's country cottage, Julian makes a point of checking in on his recovering patient and the accommodating hostess.
But after being cooped up alone with the driven writer for a few days, Harry also starts to experience some strange feelings. Chalking it up to the after effects of his heart attack, he finds it hard to believe he is attracted to a woman well over the age of 30.
Even the divorced Erica feels a little heady with all of the unexpected attention. (Go figure, a fifty something woman with not one but two men after her. Now that's a different take on the Hollywood love triangle.) Unfortunately this older, talented and remarkable woman reacts to all the male interest with about as much maturity as many teenagers. She hops into bed the first chance she gets with a man she hardly knows. Stringing along her lovers, she seems more interested in an ego feeding frenzy than a healthy relationship.
Along with the pitiable role model, parents may also disapprove of Erica's over consumption of alcohol during a couple of stressful situations, some nudity and the repeated use of a sexual expletive.
While women of all ages deserve the opportunity to portray strong, interesting and enviable characters (like the many real women who exist out there), Something's Gotta Give gives into the notion that all women really want is another warm body in bed.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Something’s Gotta Give.
How are mature women often portrayed in movies? What stereotypes about age does this film break? Was Ericas character believable?
Movies often depict the older man/younger woman combination. What drives these women to have relationships with much older men? How often do you see an older woman with a younger man? Why are we starting to see these kinds of relationships portrayed more often?
To make a love story work, the audience needs to feel empathy for the characters. How did you feel about Erica, Harry and Julian? Who do you think got the short end of the stick? Do you believe that these characters have really changed their past habits and are ready for a real relationship?