This 2003 film is a light romantic comedy with a twist: the leads are over 50. Jack Nicholson plays Harry Sanborn, a successful businessman who sings the praises of younger women and is dubbed "The Escape Artist" in a profile in New York magazine for having reached the ripe old age of 63 without ever having married. He travels with his latest squeeze Marin (Amanda Peet), an impossibly lithe young auctioneer with very white teeth, to her mother's house in the Hamptons, only to find that said mother Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) and her sister Zoe (Frances McDormand) have unexpectedly made the trek there themselves from New York city. Erica is a playwright, Zoe a women's studies professor, and these intelligent women find Harry's chauvinistic attitudes a bit hard to handle. But as Zoe says, they're all adults, so everyone decides to make the best of this unplanned and potentially awkward weekend encounter.
Until Harry has a heart attack making out with lovely young Marin. The local doctor, Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves) turns out to be a huge fan of Erica's - both her plays and her flesh-and-blood self. Julian won't let Harry go back to the city until he's feeling better, so Erica is forced to take him in. A few days pass, and inevitably (this being the movies), an attraction develops, even though Harry has never seen a woman over 30 naked and Erica has long assumed her dating days are over.
The tension in romantic comedies revolves around when, and how, the hero and heroine can overcome the inevitable obstacle and be united; very often that obstacle is another person. In simpler, more cartoonish times, the third wheel would turn out to be evil, or dead, but neither solution is really satisfactory, for in the former case the viewer doubts the hero/heroine's taste (how could he fall for such a bitch?/what did she see in that asshole?), while the latter brings on tears, and thus both scenarios detract from the lightness and charm of the genre. What to do? Here, Marin conveniently meets someone else and steps aside in favour of her mother, even encouraging her to go for it and assuring her that she and Harry have never actually had sex. Problem solved!
And so 50-something Erica finds herself with an enviable problem of her own, being simultaneously pursued by handsome young Julian and charmed by paunchy old Harry. I'm not going to tell you who wins out in the end - there's a number of plot twists that make this not a foregone conclusion - but I will tell you that along the way she writes a hit musical based on the encounters, which a smarter script would have incorporated, at least in part, into the movie.
The downside of this movie is that the script (by Nancy Meyers, who also directed and produced) is hackneyed and not particularly strong, and at two hours, the whole thing is too long; a good editing job would have helped. Luckily, the performances are good: Keaton's character is just a bit neurotic but mostly complex, intelligent, and accomplished; and while the old lecher is familiar territory for Nicholson, he brings a real warmth to his character that helps make up for his childish inability to commit. The legendarily wooden Reeves seems to get a kick out of romancing a woman 20 years his senior - rightly so, for goodness knows we don't see much of May-September romances in the movies, at least not when May is a man - and Peet is pretty, if nothing else. Diane Keaton received an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Good light fun.
Tangential note: The bistro featured towards the end of the movie, Le Grand Colbert, is worth a visit if you're ever in Paris. We had a wonderful meal there recently.