Published Dec 01, 2003Don't let the title fool you, there's not a lot of "give" in this film and not much beyond the obvious cliché-driven film. The premise that women of "a certain age" are overlooked as potential partners is apt and intriguing but that doesn't change the eventually outcome. There's the requisite heart to heart about opening yourself up to love and living in the moment but this movie still sticks with the same old mandate that the love of a good woman can change a wayward man. Of course, when she is lucky enough to receive his attentions, she must then coddle him into adulthood. While the film is rife with problems and aggravating details, it does have its charms. There are some endearing moments and genuine sparks between the leads but this can't sustain a script that isn't strong enough to live up to its own ideals.
Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) is a diehard bachelor who never dates women over 30. On a weekend retreat to the Hamptons home of his latest fling (Amanda Peet) he has a heart attack. He ends up spending a week in her mother Erica's (Diane Keaton) capable hands. Despite their differences they find a common ground and love. Nicholson and Keaton play to type he's a scoundrel, she's nervous and self-conscious and they're a good match. The film works best when they're alone on screen they have an easy, genuine rapport. All of the actors rise above the average script. Even Keanu Reeves, as a rival for Keaton's attention, puts on his adult voice and isn't half bad, which also means that he's only "half good."
Writer/director Nancy Meyers asks her characters and audience to look beyond stereotypes and wrinkles. It's an admirable point overshadowed by a lack of insight. I'm grateful that Harry doesn't say, "You make me want to be a better person" but frustrated that Erica spent any time pining for a man who doesn't "get it" until he's 63. It's hard to not leave the film hoping this isn't as good as it gets. (Columbia/Sony)