Romantic comedies are supposed to represent pairings of astrologically crossed equals, but sometimes one star can’t help shining brighter. Something’s Gotta Give was meant to be a little ditty about Jack and Diane, yet it ended up being Oscar nominee Diane Keaton’s movie. That’s partly because there’s something unbecoming about the way writer-director Nancy Meyers whips Jack Nicholson’s womanizing character into submission with multiple heart attacks. But Keaton really is that overpoweringly terrific as the skittish divorcee who succeeds in the taming of his woo.
A funny thing happened on the way to the DVD, though: Nicholson stole back the show. Keaton shares a commentary track with Meyers, fleetingly: She enters 40 minutes into the movie, pipes up only to laugh nervously about how embarrassing the kissing scenes were, then, less than an hour later, abruptly sneaks out. (Given that level of reticence, you can guess there isn’t any nude blooper reel.)
Nicholson, by contrast, isn’t shy in a separate commentary with the helmer, offering killer candor plus a master class on how to help ground a fairy tale in reality with tiny acting choices. Want to know what was happening in his nether regions, just off camera, when a lingerie-clad Amanda Peet leaped on him? Or how he made Meyers cry by insisting on wearing a loud beach shirt in another scene? Nicholson and his director share much the same loose/uptight dynamic in their audio track that he and Keaton do on screen – and fortunately, this commentary, unlike the movie, isn’t burdened with a ridiculous happy ending urging us to believe that Jack will suddenly and inexplicably cease being Jack.