“Not as ‘Complicated’ as it Sounds”
Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin
Directed by Nancy Meyers
Despite the implications of its title, “It’s Complicated” isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds.
Meryl Streep plays Jane Adler, a divorced mother of three who runs a successful bakery business in upscale Santa Barbara. Ten years after the breakup of her marriage, she’s finally at the point where she’s comfortable — or, at least, comfortable enough — being on her own.
But complications ensue when her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin), who’s miserable with his much younger hardbodied wife (Lake Bell), lays on the charm with Jane while they’re in New York for their son’s college graduation. They hook up after a fun night drinking and dancing, followed by Jake’s startling revelation: he’s still in love with her, and he wants a second chance.
At the same time, Jane is pursued by Adam (Steve Martin), a shy architect who’s expanding her beautiful home. Turns out that Adam is also divorced, but is finally ready to give love another try — hopefully with Jane. Problem is, Jane is already having a passionate affair with her ex and fails to notice Adam’s initial advances.
It’s certainly an interesting predicament: pursue a relationship with Adam, a sweet guy who’s bound to treat her right? Or go back with Jake, who she sees in a whole new light? Maybe they can do it right this time, since the problems they had the first time around don’t really exist anymore. And they already know each other, so there’s a comfort level there — but does she even love him?
Given her penchant for romantic comedies that cater to a more grown-up (and female-friendly) audience, these are questions that seem well-suited for a writer-director like Nancy Meyers. And as she did with 2003’s “Something’s Gotta Give” with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, Meyers has a great cast to work with in Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep — the latter on an incredible roll after recent hits like “Mamma Mia,” “Doubt” and “Julie and Julia.”
But the overall execution seems somewhat fluffy, lightweight and even a little juvenile at times — which is a shame, since it certainly has its profound moments. The result is a moviegoing experience that’s mildly amusing while it’s actually happening, but doesn’t leave much of an impact after the credits roll.
The movie’s saving grace is the irresistible chemistry between Streep and Baldwin. They look like they’re having a blast, and that energy is infectious — especially on the part of Baldwin, who virtually steals the movie (no surprise, since he does the same thing week after week on TV’s “30 Rock”). Steve Martin — who’s co-hosting the Oscars with Baldwin this March — seems more under-utilized as Streep’s other man, but John Krasinski (TV’s “The Office”) makes the most of his underwritten supporting role as Streep’s future son-in-law.
When it comes to writing and directing romantic comedies for middle-aged moviegoers, Nancy Meyers — whose credits also include 2000’s “What Women Want” and 2006’s “The Holiday” — is the only game in town. Maybe that’s why her latest effort should have had more depth and maturity than it actually does.
That said, “It’s Complicated” may not be all that complicated after all, but at least it’s entertaining enough, thanks to Streep and Baldwin.
Verdict: SEE IT!