"What are my choices?"
"Pancakes, pasta, left-over coq au vin...grilled cheese?"
'Ah! Totally what I wanted."'
The very first notes in the film Something's Gotta Give, from the track Butterfly by Crazy Town, tells you a lot about the man whose voiceover is describing women. Harry Sanborn likes beautiful, confident, young women. He is sixty three years old and has been dating 'sweet, uncomplicated' women for over forty years.
Enter Diane Keaton's character, Erica Barry, a woman so not Harry's type. After all, she's well over thirty, accomplished and with a grown up daughter to boot. When they meet a few minutes into the film you know she is not going to like him either. She thinks he has broken into her house. In fact, he's dating her daughter, Marin. Which is possibly worse news than being a burglar. Over dinner her view of him does not improve.
After Harry's heart attack when he is ordered to stay somewhere near the hospital in The Hamptons, Harry is forced to stay in Erica's spare room. Erica protests. She does not like this old and chauvinistic man. The rap music, the constant telephone calls, the smell of cigar in her freshly painted house. But just as Harry has opinions about women his own age (or slightly younger) Erica and her sister have formed one of Harry too - mainly fixating on his marital status. It isn't until the pancake scene where we find a thaw in Erica's opinion - where she finds Harry is not as shallow as first appeared. Because Harry can be soulful and insightful when you least expect it.
And it throws Erica completely. It turns out, Harry is the only person who ever really understands her.
Harry also changes his opinion of Erica. After describing her as '"beyond uptight"' to his doctor he then starts to enjoy her company.
As Erica's daughter says the next day, '"There was something cooking in the kitchen last night other than pancakes."'
Nancy Meyers's film is littered with food references. From the french ice cream which Harry sucks suggestively when staring at Marin's behind, to the homely pasta meal, the picnic on the beach with glasses of red wine, then the discussion of the best roast chicken in Paris (at Le Grand Colbert - yes it is a real restaurant). It adds a warmth to the film. An intimacy. And by having Erica and Harry cook up pancakes in their pyjamas on a late evening it suggests the couple getting close, cosy, opening up to each other. A promise of things to come. Then, the next night, after they have been intimate, they're in the kitchen again, eating scrambled eggs straight out of the pan. Not something Harry would have done with any of his younger women. It suggests a closeness to their relationship. As though they had known each other a long time.
Now I'm guessing Erica was going to whip up a batch of American pancakes, not the British version that we roll up with sugar and lemon. When I make my American pancakes I always go to Nigella. You can find the recipe here on her website. Serve with lots of syrup late at night or with bacon for a Sunday brunch.