Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's Complicated


Directed by Nancy Meyers.
Rated R, 120 minutes.
Cast:
Meryl Streep
Alec Baldwin
Steve Martin
John Krasinski
Lake Bell
Hunter Parish
Caitlin Fitzgerald
Zoe Kazan
Rita Wilson
Alexandra Wentworth


Jane Adler (Streep) is a divorcee going through a bit of “empty nest” syndrome as her youngest child is graduating college and about to leave her alone in her big, beautiful home. She hasn’t been dating but has taken an interest in Adam (Martin), the architect helping her with additions to the house. The complicated part: after a night of drinking and dancing she finds herself involved in an affair with her ex-husband Jake (Baldwin) who is now married to Agness (Bell), a woman quite a few years her junior.

Except for the ages of those involved, the premise is fairly unremarkable. However, that one aspect is explored and exploited wonderfully. In keeping with the overall light tone, age is viewed as a simple matter of fact, not a death sentence to your pursuit of happiness. Even that’s not entirely accurate. For some, their advancing age is actually an excuse to pursue their happiness with even more vigor than they did when they were young.

As you can imagine, this eventually becomes a love triangle with Streep at the center. It is key that she is playing the lead role. Her acting ability is unquestionable and she is again fantastic. However, it’s her looks that make her performance. She’s a household name. We are familiar enough with her to have seen her at various stages of her career and life. We know what she looked like many years ago. Many of us, myself included, think that right now she looks better than she ever has. So, why wouldn’t her ex-husbandt think the same? On top of that, she exudes a certain regality that’s attractive. That’s what keeps the architect who’s just met her, sniffing around.

None of that would matter if it weren’t funny. Fortuanately, this contains plenty of laughs. They feel natural as the actors all seem to be having such fun as things just happen. They rarely feel like they’re simply performing jokes. Among those actors, John Krasinski as Jane’s son-in-law Harley, stands out. He has many of the movies best moments. That said, I have to be fair and say who thinks It’s Complicated is funny and who doesn’t may break down along generational lines. I’m guessing 30 might be the line of demarcation: above it, you’ll love it, below it you’ll loathe it. Maybe.

Romantic comedies are one of my least favorite genres of movies, a shade above romantic musicals. This rises above its contemporaries even though it includes many of their clich├ęs. I wouldn’t call it a great film, but it is certainly an entertaining one. Streep plays perfectly off her male suitors and displays a comedic timing not often associated with her. Yup, I’m drinking the Streep kool-aid. She’s the best.

The Opposite View: Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle

What the Internet Says: 6.7/10 on imdb.com, 57% on rottentomatoes.com, 57/100 on metacritic.com

MY SCORE: 7/10

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