Film Reviews

IT’S COMPLICATED

By • Dec 21st, 2009 •

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Meryl Streep is the ultimate sexy role model for women over 50. She gamely plays the perfect Nancy Meyers woman. Who doesn’t want to see Baldwin as the love-sick, fat ex-husband?

Over fifty Jane Adler (Meryl Streep) has everything: Three devoted and lovely children without one DUI, trip to rehab, or the need for bail. Her bakery shop/restaurant is thriving and successful. She’s a first class chef. She lives in a gorgeous, Architectural Digest-perfect house in leafy, tree-choked Santa Barbara – where reality is in soft-focus and everyone drinks red wine. Jane has good friends, a vegetable garden, and a very rich ex-husband, lawyer Jake (Alec Baldwin).

They were married for nearly 20 years and have been divorced for ten. Jake cheated on Jane with hot, rail-thin Agness (Lake Bell). He lost his mind and married Agness. Promptly, Agness ran off with a Mexican, had a child, and returned to Jake.

Agness’s love child, Pedro, is now five years old and he is Jake’s personal Grand Inquisitor. Agness is a real ball-buster. Jake might have the cash, but he is bullied by Agness and disliked by Pedro. In fact, Agness has him going to a fertility clinic to boost up his sperm count. It’s time for a baby. Jake is henpecked and his only clever revenge is to have an affair with his ex-wife.

Outside Nancy Meyers’s world, divorces do not come this civil. In real life, Jane would have been resentful until the day she died and thereafter.

Meyers’s should have given Jane a second ex-husband who drove her house into foreclosure, ran off with her oldest daughter, and trafficked in kiddie porn. (I’m not speaking from experience. I had other – in retrospect, rather mundane – issues with my ex-husbands.) Then, starting up again with Jake – an overweight savior, if you will – would have made sense.

When Jane and Jake’s middle child, son Luke (Hunter Parrish), graduates from college, the family gathers in New York City to celebrate. (That’s the way you do it if you live in horse country.) An evening of drinks and dinner ends with Jane and Jake in bed. According to Jake, the Earth shook and moved off its axis. It was a night of sexual ecstasy without a prescription drug. Jake wants his ex-wife back. He likes the excitement. Jane should like the fact that she is having sex with Agness’s husband.

Then Jane meets architect Adam (Steve Martin) who has been divorced for 2 years and is not meeting the right kind of women. He’s meek, successful, and a dutiful, though apprehensive, suitor. Now, as Adam works with Jane on her million-dollar extension to her house, he starts to desire mature Jane over all others.

Writer-director Nancy Meyers stacks everything in Jane’s favor. The house is crowded with food, openness and laughter. Jane is so winning and without any bitterness that you cannot believe she has spent 10 years alone.

Every time Jake stops by her house, it is filled with his grown children feasting on Mom’s cooking. Well, at least Meyers’s didn’t have them singing 80’s songs.

Meyers plays up Jane’s insecurities to the delight of the audience. While Jake loves his fat body, Jane doesn’t want him to see her naked. When Jake complimented Jane on foregoing the de rigueur “Hollywood” wax, the audience became hysterical.

Jane’s age is front and center: She even asks Adam if she is too old for him.

I applaud Meyers addressing the pot issue with Jane and Adam getting stoned. Let’s bring back smoking pot as an ageless sofa sport and see it as a fun thing to do. It really is a highlight of IT’S COMPLICATED and an audience-pleaser.

Alec Baldwin chews up the scenery and clearly is having a ball. He’s damn proud of his hairy belly – Jake earned it! (It’s perfect: All men over 50 look in the mirror and see a 30-year-old fresh off the basketball court. All women over 40 see The Wicked Witch of the West looking back at them.)

Baldwin knows this is his Jack Nicholson role in Meyers’s SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE (which mirrors this, but without Streep going full-frontal – Baldwin does that). Meyers does show Jake genuinely caring for Pedro. He’s not all bad. But Jake’s a cheater and once he wins Jane, he’ll be looking again at the office temps.

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One Response »

  1. Could we get less baggage in your reviews?

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