Saturday, June 26, 2010

Something's Gotta Give (2003)

So I'm in Japan and I blog for the first time in a week and it's about this?

We watched Something's Gotta Give tonight for essentially the same reason that I'm blogging it. We were home (i.e., home in Japan) tonight for the first time in many days, and we were exhausted and needed something to vegetate to, and this was handy. Japanese TV is just as brain-numbing, but neither of us, pop culture fanatics though we are, can stand most Japanese television. We watch with great interest for the first day or two we're here, then we remember how unbelievably, maddeningly stupid most of it is. Brain-numbing, but in a bad way...

Is this a good movie? I have nothing against romantic comedies; I don't usually reach for them in a pile of DVDs, but I can appreciate a good one. This isn't entirely a good one. But it's enjoyable enough, up to a point.

The good: Diane Keaton, of course. There's a scene, after she and Jack have slept together, where he says something that leaves her at a loss for words, and you can see about ten different emotions crossing over her face before she says anything, from love to anger to embarrassment to rueful amusement to others too fleeting to quite identify. I'm not sure I know what good acting is, but I think this is it.

Also good: Keanu Reeves, surprisingly enough. I'm not sure I know what good acting is, and I've really never been sure Keanu can do it. I know a lot of people think he can't. And I'll admit that there's a very wooden quality about him in most of his roles. But in almost everything I've seen him in, this woodenness works in favor of his performance. This is true of Matrix, certainly, and of Dracula, too. I won't go so far as to say it's on purpose - that is, it may not be acting - but he's smart enough to usually only take roles in which his style of performance will be effective. It's effective here: I actually believed his character's attraction to, and then love for, Diane's: he's so direct, so preternaturally possessed, so unembellished, that you can buy him as a guy who knows what he feels and can see beyond social strictures.

Which makes it all the more a shame that the bad in this movie is so bad: the way it mercilessly tosses Reeves aside when he's served his purpose. You know from the start, because it's a romcom, that Diane and Jack will end up together, but I at least was rooting for Diane and Keanu. And the movie lets them stay together far too long - when Keanu is cast aside for Jack, you can't help but feel sorry for him. Especially because Jack's change of heart is explained in such a silly manner - like Diane's really going to forgive him because of a two-minute High Fidelity pastiche?

So Jack and Diane end up together. I knew that, and I was prepared to hate the movie because of it. But I have to admit, lousy writing aside, they have pretty good chemistry. And that, after all, is what you see a romantic comedy for. This onscreen chemistry thing is real, even if it's hard to quantify or analyze. And it's as good a reason as any to enjoy a movie.

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