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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Something's Gotta Give

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#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted March 26 2004 - 12:43 PM

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Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Film Year: 2003

U.S. Rating: PG-13
Canadian Rating: PG

Length: 128 minutes
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English & French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned: Yes

Release Date: March 30, 2004

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From Writer/Director Nancy Meyers comes the romantic comedy of 2003 earning Diane Keaton her Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination for her performance. The film tells the story of Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), a man of much success in business, a record company owner, and at 63 years old, a playboy who loves his women. He’s been tagged as the man who doesn’t date women above thirty years of age. He doesn’t need to either: the girls love him for his personality, his smooth talk, and his status – and he gets what he wants – to date and sleep with young women.

He goes on a private week-end getaway with his current ‘date’ Marin (Amanda Peet) at her mother’s Hampton’s beach house. After a parade in their underpants, they are embarrassed to run into her older sister Zoë (Frances McDormand) and mother Erica (Diane Keaton) – a successful divorced New York playwright. Since Marin is old enough to keep the guys she dates without “mom” to send him home, he is invited to stay for the remainder of the weekend.

Harry gets more time in at the beach house than he expects after having a mild heart attack (note to viewer: you do not perform CPR and chest compressions on a conscious patient!). A trip to the hospital keeps Harry confined by orders of Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), and the youthful doctor notices Erica because he’s loved her plays. Now Erica has to balance nursing Harry at home (by the doctor’s orders) and being pursued by the fresh young face of Julian. Harry on the other hand, is loosing out. He’s developed the chest pains of love for Erica but his old habits of young women causes him to hesitate, and give the upper hand to Julian. For the first time in his life he’s faced with feelings he’s never felt before and a decision that could change his old habits for good.

I’m glad I got to watch this movie – that is after I skipped past FIVE movie trailers, a menu, a studio logo, a Warning screen, and THREE (English, French, Spanish) commentary disclaimers! This is ridiculous! The skip button on my remote is going to be the first to die! I shouldn’t have to go through all of this stress just to get to the film! These forced trailers are inappropriate for the “retail” package of the film. I’ll understand if they make a separate disc with this for the rental market, but this is so annoying (like Disney!) for owning the film on personal home video. I’ve said it before – commentary disclaimers should only pop up if I turn the commentaries on in the menu and then go to the film. By the time I get to the movie it seems a few minutes have passed and in our speedy little world this is unacceptable.

As for the film, like I said, I’m happy to have seen this film. It’s delightful, has sharp humor, and is very enjoyable. Since the movie deals with issues geared to middle aged viewers the younger crowd might not get a lot out of it. But I think anyone can identify with the film since the story sends some good messages about evaluating your life in your place and time. It helps that all of the characters are developed very well. I almost felt like I was spending a weekend there with them. If a movie can pull me in that much I know it’s good in my books.

The only real criticism I have about the film is that it seemed rushed. The scenes in place felt ok, but the characters sounded like they were speeding through their lines. It felt very unnatural, especially for the first hour of the film. I don’t know how that was ever accepted as a final take, but it just didn’t feel real sometimes. Nevertheless, once I got used to it I ignored it mostly.

Video Quality? Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

When the movie opens I thought “oh no!” when I looked at the picture quality. There was excessive film grain in the first minute of the film and all I could think of was “please not for the rest of the movie!” Thankfully my wish came true. The film grain was reduced significantly to a point of not being bothersome. I don’t mind a little bit of film grain because I find it ‘cozy’. This can’t be the cleanest print available because of the consistent dirt specs for the full length of the film. Thankfully the look of the film is pleasing – excellent contrast, such natural colour fidelity, especially the fleshtones that I found to be perfect. The interiors of the Hampton’s beach house are consistently shown to have a natural look that isn’t too dim or too bright. This is one of the most “comfortable” looking films I’ve seen in a while.

Now I’m going to burst my own bubble – this wonderfully looking film has compression artefacts throughout due to the compression to DVD. There are too many artefacts in my opinion, more than I’ve seen on a lot of other films. Despite the average bitrate of over 6Mbps, this proves that providing a higher bitrate isn’t the only factor in making a digitally compressed film look good. The result is a softer looking film because the would-be finer details are digitally smeared. There are small amounts of digital noise all around moving edges as well as in the background images. There is even an appearance of a very slight ghost beside defined edges that are distinct from the edge enhancement found in other scenes. Neither of these artefacts is consistent throughout the film, however they are there. On a smaller screen these artefacts may not be noticeable but those of you with larger screens will find the picture wanting in finer detail. You’ll also be asking for a cleaner looking image.

Audio Quality? Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

The audio on this film is not really exciting and I never expected it to be. My score is based more on the creative process behind this soundtrack and less for the recording quality. The recording quality is great. There is no hiss or other noise, pops, clicks, or anything distracting in it. The music soundtrack has great fidelity and keeps the lighthearted mood of the film rolling along. Creative use of the soundstage – to be honest – sucks. Being a romantic comedy that takes place mostly in a house I didn’t expect too much but I’ll tell you what I heard vs. what I would expect to hear.

Even though a lot of the film is in a house, all of the dialogue is center-channel driven and has a confined boxy sound to it, probably because of ADR. I would expect to hear some room ambience around that dialogue in the center channel as well as a little bit in left and right channels as their words fill their (what would look like to be) fairly reflective rooms of big glass windows and hardwood floors. When Nicholson and Keaton walk along the beach for one of their talks, again we hear mostly center-channel usage – the fair-sized rolling waves crashing on the shore is only through the center speaker for most of that walk. I would expect to hear a little more of that outdoor ambience in at least the three front channels, and maybe some ‘air’ noise in the surrounds – but that is me. Maybe it was the intention to keep focused on the conversation and not be distracted by the sounds of the environment, but I found myself to me more distracted having all of the sound coming from just one little speaker in front of me. Maybe I was heard as I was thinking this, because later in that scene when they turn around to go back to the beach house there were sounds of those crashing waves coming from the left channel. Nice try guys. It doesn’t sound integrated at all with the sounds coming from the center speaker. There is no phantom imaging between left channel and center channel as those sounds happen, thus they sound completely out of place with each other. Call me anal – but I like hearing well made soundtrack because I find they draw me into the film more even if it is only a dialogue scene. Every scene should be creative in its soundfield development while still keeping the focus on what the scene is trying to convey. At least during chapter 17’s thunderstorm, the sound of thunder and rain open up the soundstage a little more and actually had sound information come from behind me that was effective in creating a 360 degree soundfield.

Overall feeling for this soundtrack: boring.

Special Features? Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

There isn’t a bad selection of special features here. Included are two commentaries, one with writer/director Nancy Meyers and Diane Keaton and producer Bruce A. Block, and the second one with just Nancy Meyers and Jack Nicholson. I’m happy that both Keaton and Nicholson chose to participate in the commentaries because it shows they care to actually speak about their work to their fans or fans of the film rather than ignore the invite to record one. The discussions are similar in content of other commentaries, including information about casting and specific shots. Beware of the Nicholson commentary! – as good as it is, his voice sounds so calm and relaxed you just might fall asleep listening to it.

The next selection in the special features menu is the Hampton’s House Set Tour with Amanda Peet (2.51), and here we have our lovely actress give a tour of the house built. She liked it so much she said she’s getting it moved and keeping it for herself! (So that’s what they do with these sets, eh? I should have asked for the neighborhood built for Panic Room [as seen on the Special Edition DVD] and put it up in the undeveloped area by me and used it as my house).

Despite the rough cut of the film running 2 hours and 45 minutes, we only get to see one deleted scene, ”Harry Sings Karaoke To Erica”. The scene lasts almost three minutes as Nicholson sings a whole song in French, a song that is reoccurring in the film. I would have liked to see more deleted scenes especially if it had taken away from the ‘rushed’ feel of the acting in the movie. I also suspect the film would have been bumped to an R-rating in an extended cut since my press release states the film is presented in its “original theatrical PG-13 rated version.” If you listen to the commentaries there are a few mentioning of scenes cut out for length.

Lastly there are filmographies of the cast and director, and just in case you hit the skip button five times after you put in the DVD, all of those trailers that you could have watched are available in the previews section on the disc. There are ten previews in total.

There is no chapter stop insert card included in the case, just an advertisement card for more DVDs.


Funny and witty, Something’s Gotta Give is a charm. While I was disappointed with both the audio and video performance in their own respects, based on the genre the film falls into, some of you may not complain too much. Die hards may be a little disappointed. This is one movie to pull out on the rainy night, cuddle up with your significant other and…well, I’ll let you finish your story. Posted Image

It’s a romantic comedy, what else can I say?

Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw

THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

Video Contributor

CANADA HiFi Magazine

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   DanC


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Posted March 27 2004 - 02:30 AM

I'm 24 and actually loved this film. But then again, I pretty much enjoy anything Jack is in. I actually thought in this case that Keaton stole the show however.

Hate to hear about the sub-par a/v but I'll definitely be picking this up Tuesday.

Thanks for the review Michael. Posted Image
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#3 of 10 OFFLINE   Steve K.H.

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Posted March 27 2004 - 05:26 AM

Nice review. A decent story line with great acting. Avg picture, and audio, and no real features that make this a must purchase. I will definitely rent this one.
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#4 of 10 OFFLINE   JakeLip


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Posted March 27 2004 - 06:34 AM

Thanks for the review. This will be a rental.


#5 of 10 OFFLINE   ClaytonMG


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Posted March 27 2004 - 03:40 PM

What previews are on the disc? Clayton

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   Ian Currie

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Posted March 30 2004 - 02:42 AM

Ironically, DVD File said the transfer was amazing - as close to HD as DVD can get, and awarded it 5/5.
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#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Matt Pelham

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Posted March 30 2004 - 03:45 AM

13 Going on 30 and a few others.

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   Steven Simon

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Posted March 31 2004 - 10:35 PM

Just watched this movie last night... It was terrific!!!
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#9 of 10 OFFLINE   Dwight Amato

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Posted April 01 2004 - 12:55 AM

I too saw it last night, loved the movie. I did find it weird that so much was able to happen to all of these characters in just 6 months. I think the video quality was better the described here. A little soft at times but I thought it may have been from a lens filter.

#10 of 10 OFFLINE   Steven Simon

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Posted April 01 2004 - 01:11 AM

The Video on my WS Mitsu looked like an average Sony release... Probelm is Columbia Tri Star sets there standards so darn high.....
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