A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Some say I'm an expert on the younger woman -- since I've been dating them for 40 years."
Who's talking here? Jack Nicholson, or the character he plays in "Something's Gotta Give"? Maybe it doesn't make any difference. After playing an older man entirely unlike himself in "About Schmidt," Nicholson here quite frankly and cheerfully plays a version of the public Jack, the guy who always seems to be grinning like he got away with something. This has inspired scoldings from the filmcrit police ("This is Jack playing 'Jack'," says Variety), but who would you rather have playing him? Nicholson's quasi-autobiographical role is one of the pleasures of the film.
Nicholson's character, named Harry Sanborn, is a rich music executive who is currently dating the nubile young Marin Barry (Amanda Peet). She takes him for a weekend to her mother's home in the Hamptons -- where, horrors, he is found raiding the refrigerator in the middle of the night by her mother Erica (Diane Keaton) and Aunt Zoe (Frances McDormand). Erica is a famous playwright, too worldly to object to her grown daughter's taste in men, and the four spend the weekend together. We learn that Harry and Marin have not yet actually had sex, and alas, as they circle for a landing, Harry is seized with chest pains and rushed to the hospital.
Only in the Hamptons would the doctor be handsome Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), who is instantly smitten by the sexy older woman. He prescribes bed rest for Harry, who takes refuge in Erica's guest room as the others return to the city. And that's the setup for a witty sitcom, written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who in movies like "Baby Boom" and "What Women Want," has dealt skillfully with the sexual adventures of characters whose ages fall between those who remember where they were when John Kennedy was shot, and when John Lennon was murdered. It is more or less foreordained that Harry and Erica will fall in love, despite his taste for younger women. The twist is that Dr. Mercer also falls in love with Erica, supplying her with two possible lovers at a time in her life when she thought she'd gone into sexual retirement.