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Movie Review

Something's Gotta Give also known as “Alguien tiene que ceder,” “Galen i kärlek,” “Alguém Tem Que Ceder,” “Askta hersey mümkün,” “Cuando menos te lo esperas,” “Cuando menos te lo esperas…,” “Jotain annettavaa,” “Lepsí pozde nezli pozdeji,” “Lepsie neskoro ako nikdy,” “Ljubav nema pravila,” “Minden végzet nehéz,” “Når du mindst venter det,” “Parem hilja kui mitte kunagi,” “Quelque chose d'inattendu,” “Tout peut arriver,” “Tutto può succedere,” “Was das Herz begehrt”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and strong language.

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Romance Comedy
2 hr. 13 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 12, 2003
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love & Relationships
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ANXIETY ATTACK, worry and fear—What does the Bible say? Answer

NUDITY—Why are humans supposed to wear clothes? Answer

What about feminism and women’s lib?

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer


Featuring: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau, Paul Michael Glaser, more »
Director: Nancy Meyers
Producer: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Warner Bros. Pictures, Waverly Films, Bruce A. Block, Suzanne Farwell, Nancy Meyers
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

This is an unusual Holiday release. Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton are paired off in a very talky and introspective comedy, playing revised versions of characters they’re done before. Since the two leads and Frances McDormand are all Oscar winners (Nicholson has twelve nominations and three wins), someone obviously sank a lot of money into this film. The plot reeks of political correctness with just enough outrageousness to grab fringe viewers.

In the opening scenes, the viewer is “forced” to ogle a parade of beautiful young women while a voiceover by Harry Sanborn (Nicholson) explains that he knows a lot about young women because he’s been dating them for forty years. Harry and his latest trophy girlfriend Marin (Amanda Peet) head out to her mom’s oceanfront getaway for a weekend of meaningless sex (she begins undressing even before they’re in the door). But her mom Erica Barry (Keaton) and her Aunt Zoe (McDormand) show up there also. Majorly awkward.

Eventually it’s decided that since they’re all sensible adults (meaning either that they approve of meaningless sex, or at least that they don’t tell other people how to run their lives), all four will stay the weekend. But while Harry and Marin are “gearing up” in the bedroom, he suffers a heart attack. The E.R. physician, Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), decides that Harry is too sick for the return trip to New York; so he ends up back at the beachhouse, alone with Erica, while he convalesces.

The two can’t stand each other at first; but in the near proximity, something strange begins to happen. The sixty-three-year-old Harry, who’s never married, never been in love and never dated a woman over thirty, finds his life changed in the aftermath of his heart attack. He’s attracted to Erica. And although Erica and Zoe had (correctly) pegged him as a disgusting in his disregard for women, he does show a sensitive streak at the oddest times. Erica is attracted to him as well.

This new experience scares Harry, since he’s on unfamiliar territory. His instinct is to back away. But Dr. Mercer, though much younger than Erica, is interested in her too. Does the Doctor see something that Harry doesn’t? Should Harry make an effort to see it, before his chance is gone?

Profanity—This film escaped with a PG-13 rating under the “new rules.” However, it contains about forty profanities including two or more uses of f*, other sexual slang, and a lot of curses and “Oh, my God” type exclamations.

Sex and Nudity—Erica and Marin are both seen in their underwear. In one sequence Erica is seen full frontal nude, except she holds her hand in front of her crotch. In the post-heart-attack sequence, there are several glimpses of Harry’s bare behind hanging out the back of a hospital gown. And when Erica (a playwright) pens and produces a play based on her experiences with Harry, there’s a scene where a whole chorus line of old guys in hospital gowns show off their special-effects bare behinds.

Harry has a foreplay scene with Marin, and a non-explicit sex scene with Erica in which she hands him a scissors and demands that he cut away her turtleneck sweater. Just as Harry’s repeated heart pains are symbolic of his unfulfilled state of not being in love, the scissors scene represents Erica being “cured” of her “repression.” And once “cured,” it’s fairly obvious that Erica also has sex with Dr. Mercer.

There are several instances of brief breast—or buttock-fondling. Also, miscellaneous suggestive scenes, such as Harry licking an ice cream cone while admiring Marin’s behind. Also, numerous jokes and gags about Viagra and middle-aged sex.

The upside of the overall plot is the message that it’s possible for people in their fifties and sixties to have a meaningful relationship (and that it’s actually a beautiful enough thing for Hollywood to put onto the screen once in a great while). The downside is that we first have to see those older folks acting just as irresponsibly as the younger set: having casual sex first, and then trying to make sense of it after the fact.

Worldview—Harry states (correctly) that it’s not realistic to expect to be “just friends” after you’ve had sex. He doesn’t say anything about how having sex right away is an impediment to true intimacy later on. But since Harry’s never in his life TRIED to be truly intimate with anyone, he wouldn’t know that, would he?

All the principal characters are well-to-do. Harry made his money off record companies, and presently owns a hip-hop label (symbolic of his attitude toward women as objects rather than persons). Erica is a successful playwright. Zoe is something like a Professor of Women’s Studies. Marin is an auctioneer at Christie’s. And, of course, the Doctor is a physician. In this film, they are moneyed liberals all around.

It appears that Erica’s only real objection to her daughter’s relationship with Harry is the May-December angle. No one in the cast holds anything like a worldview that sex should be confined to marriage. So the only variables in how this story will end are: (1) Will there be SOME degree of commitment, or NONE? (2) Will the final romantic pairings be age-appropriate, or cross-generational?

Bottom line: The constant barrage of sexual material and attendant liberal politics is distracting and embarrassing, making it impossible to treat this film as “just entertainment.” Yes, it’s funny, but a lot of it is “guilty fun.” There are a few positive lessons, but the bad outweighs the good. This film is appropriate only for very mature audiences, and I don’t recommend it as worthwhile for anyone.

Violence: None | Profanity: Heavy | Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I found this situation typical. Although offensive, it’s true. In our culture, older men do lust after young women and the ones that marry women that are young enough to be their daughters, are considered lucky (by other men). I liked the film. To me, it’s about a man that discovered the emptiness of his playboy lifestyle and makes positive changes. He comes to realize that his choices have left him with no real companion… only sex outside of true relationship and at his age, that is getting harder to accomplish. Sin is sin because it doesn’t work= and this film shows it. If you can handle limited nudity, strip scenes, cleavage, etc. etc. go see this one; it’s headed in the right direction.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Jill, age 50
Positive—…we loved this movie. We laughed really hard, and thought it was cute. There are some very shocking scenes—full frontal nudity of Diane Keaton. However, this scene is so quick that you could almost miss it. There are some great biblical views (in a secular movie). He (Jack Nicholson’s charater) goes back into his past to give some closure on his past hurts. I think that was awesome. There were also some other great scenes with Diane Keaton and her daughter—telling her to let someone into her life and stop all these one night stands. We both really enjoyed it! We hope you can too!
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Amy, age 35
Neutral—Considering the content of most movies today, I felt that this movie had some very good messages messages hidden amongst the not so great messages of our age. It was definitely not appropriate for anyone under 18, but as an adult who was able to separate the garbage from the good stuff I found it to be very enjoyable.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Ida, age 41
Neutral (This comment contains spoilers.) This isn’t a film for every viewer by any means. But despite a vulgar, sleazy, disgusting and offensive main character (played by a Jack Nicholson) as well as various portrayals of sex and nudity, the message of the film is actually a positive one. The message is that meaningless sex isn’t fulfilling. The film starts with two characters about to engage in casual sex, and by the end of the film both of them have discovered that commitment, love and (in one case, at least) even marriage are more fulfilling. Both of them suffer heartbreak and worse from the type of life they were living, and both of them take steps to pursue a better path.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Eric, age 51
Negative—My husband and I recently went to see “Something’s Gotta Give.” We knew it was PG-13 and expected some fowl langauge/adult themes. We were shocked to find nudity in the flick! We never attend R films to avoid this kind of stuff! …Who rates these movies?!!
—Trish L.N.
Negative—I rented this movie and couple of days ago because I thought it seemed amusing, but I must admit, the main reason I finished this movie was soley based on boredom and the lack of nothing better to do, that is why I did not stop it. There were several scenes that I should have fast-forwarded through, but I could not find the remote to do so! A serious case of laziness, which can lead to trouble, and in my case it did. This film is filled with filth. First of all, the movie starts out with an old womanizer who only dates woman half his age, gets them in bed and then he’s done with them. The only reason he’s still with the girl he has right now is because they have not had sex yet! While “getting it on,” he has a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital where he is asked if he was engaging in “intercourse” when the heart attack to place, and he responds, “Unfortunately not.” I felt very dirty and guilty after I watched this movie and had to ask God to forgive me! I wanted to scrub my mind down with Comet! Please, keep your mind and heart pure and stay away from this film!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Jonathan Brown, age 19