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In the best work of her career Nancy Meyers presents the funny comedy,
It's Complicated starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin.
This fast-paced, smart comedy is everything in a mature work that didn't succeed with films such as Something's Gotta Give. Meyers creates three authentic characters with sympathy and everyday qualities that make them identifiable and first-class writing genius.
The film tells the story of Jane (Streep), who's ten year post-divorce from Jake (Baldwin), who left her for a much younger woman, hasn't necessarily become water under the bridge. Trying to find some type of happiness in her later years, she meets Adam (Martin), a sensitive architect, who is designing her new kitchen and has had his fair share of divorce stories in the past. But when attending their son's college graduation, Jane and Jake find that everything is as simple as it once seemed.
The cast here is one of the best ensemble works of the year. Meryl Streep is naturalistic and in top form showing her sexier side at 60. Streep shows that she can still create a character from scratch and make the woman as real as anyone walking down the streets of New York City. It's one of her funnier turns in years.
Alec Baldwin, in one of his best performances to date, shows immaturity and careless can get you far in a film. Showing top comedic work, Baldwin seems in the hunt for Oscar recognition. His charm and magnetism is quite surprising as we haven't seen him give a performance this funny ever, not even in his hit sitcom "30 Rock." Steve Martin, who I have found overdoes his comedy in some of his later years in film is in control and utterly enjoyable. Martin shows a sensitive side reminiscent of his works in Roxanne and Parenthood, and finds an audience cheer with empathetic tendencies can get you right back to what you do best. It's a return to form for Martin.
John Krasinski, who plays Harley, one of Jane's daughter's fiancée, is totally hilarious and drives away from the comedy we once found funny in his "Jim" on NBC's hit sitcom "The Office." Krasinski, in many ways upstages some of the veterans on film as he steals a lot of the spotlight. Krasinski is an outstanding talent to watch out for in the near future as he branches out into more demanding roles.
It's Complicated couldn't have succeeded without Nancy Meyers finally showing what good writing can do with the right people, time, and effort put into place. It's the work of her career and she remains a dark horse for an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Though the film will definitely appeal to an older generation, the younger can appreciate the zeal and comical dialogue shared between the players. The film does run a bit long and loses some of it's spark in the finale act, but it's pure entertainment and a must-see of the holiday season.
I would give It's Complicated an 11 if it were possible! There isn't anything I would change about this movie. Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin have a chemistry that I'm willing to beg and plead will go on. I want to see more of this duo. My direct request to Nancy Meyers is "keep these intelligent scripts coming." This story is an antidote to all the stupid stuff that's being shoveled out of Hollywood. Give us more of this! It's Complicated has both humor and pathos. Steve Martin plays a great foil to Baldwin's character. He's attractive and vulnerable. Streep has a genuine dilemma of riches with these two. If she would have to choose, how could she? In different ways, equally appealing, these guys wear their hearts on their sleeves. And before all the male moviegoers say, "ugh" and cross it off as a "chick flick," note that men in the audience laughed as hard and loud as women. "Hilarious" honestly applies to this film. The script is tight. The supporting cast is very natural. Jim Krasinski, is especially good in his role as son-in-law. An important note, it's rated R, so leave the kids with a sitter. Treat yourself to a movie that won't bring you down nor insult your intelligence. You'll delight in what fine actors can do when all the ingredients are there.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am conflicted about "It's Complicated." As you would expect, the
acting is impeccable. Three exceptional actors (Queen Meryl, 30 Rock's
Emmy winner Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin) ply their craft perfectly.
She is Jane, a late-50s divorcée, luxury bakery owner, and mother of
three grown kids. Jake (Baldwin) is the cad of an ex-husband who
remarried a much younger woman, Agness (played by Lake Bell) but who
remains close to the kids and even to Jane. Martin plays Adam, the
architect who has designed Jane's dream home addition, which includes
the kitchen she always wanted (a nod to her turn as Julia Child in
Julie & Julia). When the whole family goes to New York for the youngest
child's graduation, the chick flick begins. The kids go off to a party,
leaving Jane to dine by herself in the hotel restaurant/bar. Jake is
there alone, too, since his wife and her precocious son conveniently
stayed home when the kid got sick. Surprise! Jane and Jake end up
drinking and eating at the bar, having a good old time and landing in
the sack. The PG bedroom scenes are the best in the movie.
As the trailer depicts, the two start an unusual affair, she feeling guilt, he having second thoughts about his new marriage. Jane confides in her best friends (played by all-star veterans Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place and Alexandra Wentworth), who are totally superfluous to the film, and her shrink, all of whom encourage her to pursue her indiscretion. Enter Adam, a wild and sensitive guy, as the nice guy Jane needs. He and Baldwin are polar opposites. By now, we all know where the film is headed.
So what's not to like? Plenty. Writer/director Nancy Meyers hates philandering men. Fine. So why is Jane's character painted so sympathetically? She's doing the same thing to Agness that broke up her marriage and sent her into a 10-year skid. Meyers, who also directed chick flicks "What Women Want," "Something's Gotta Give," and "The Holiday," lets the movie lag for almost 20 minutes in the middle. I wanted to scream: Move it along! The film doesn't hit its stride until 75 minutes in, propelled by an unlikely scene where Jane and Adam share a joint and make fools of themselves at a party. Lastly, just when you think the movie is going to give you an unconventional ending, it doesn't. I adore the actors, like the genre, bought the premise, and ultimately was disappointed.
"It's Complicated" is pretty simple, actually. Successful Californian
food store owner Meryl Streep has been happily divorced from her former
husband Alex Baldwin for the last ten years, but on a trip to New York
to attend their son's graduation, she starts an affair with him. He
happens to have re-married, to a younger woman, while she becomes
involved with her architect Steve Martin. Will Meryl and Alec get back
together again, or will she set off into the sunset with Steve. What
will the children think? Do we care?
Well, not a lot. The lifestyle depicted is one in which everything is perfect, especially the cast's complexions. There are no human imperfections depicted, unless you count lust. All the characters, with the partial exception of Meryl, are stereotypes people from Advertising land. In real life things are much more complicated.
That said, this is a superior piece of its type and it passes the watch test (I didn't look at my watch while viewing it). True, I could watch Meryl reading the phone book, and yes the dialogue was witty and the set pieces funny, and I had some guilty enjoyment from all the affluence. But really it was all too sweet, like Meryl's chocolate cake. Alex Baldwin does a passable LA lawyer while Steve Martin seems to be in the wrong movie.
Congratulations on a film that is truly funny and well done.
Divorce is tough; relationships after divorce are sometimes even tougher; laughing about it is key to getting on with life. Saw this movie at a post-production screening in Thousand Oaks CA on Wednesday, October 21. The welcoming crew said we were the first audience to see this movie.
Alec Baldwin (Jake) was perfectly scripted and his physique makes the movie funnier. His scenes in the fertility clinic, on Jane's (Streep) bed with a laptop; and as a 'sexpot' were rolling on the floor hilarious. Steve Martin as a serious and considerate architect was also well-casted. Even as serious as he was most of the time, we laughed at his lines and situations. Meryl Streep: what can I say? Always classy, always professional. Even in funny situations. Jake and Jane's kids were great (especially the future son-in-law as he tried not to "spill the beans" and choice of pajamas).
I'm over 50 and would be interested to hear what people under 30 think of this film. Two thumbs up!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Saturday night... movie night with the girlfriend. She wants to get a
film I've never really heard of called It's Complicated, from the
description all I see is that it's a romcom. I suggest some other films
saying that I'm not really in the mood for another romcom, as there
seems to be one released every week lately, they're all so formulaic
and we seem to see them all.
Needless to say 5 minutes later we were sitting on the couch, settling in to watch It's Complicated.
Giving in once again does have certain advantages, as I warned her that my objections to seeing yet another romcom gave me license to pay it out, if it came to that. Unfortunately for this film, it did.
As much as I respect her as an actress, all that Meryl Streep touches doth not turn to gold, and as much as I like Alec Baldwin as a comedic actor from the likes of 30 Rock, he cannot save this film. There is nothing to like about the characters, no development at all, they're all unconvincing, unrealistic, ultra-successful, perfect people with perfect lives. Even the situations they get themselves into are perfectly 'complicated' (damn that title), and you know it's all gonna come out perfectly in the end anyway. Don't expect any surprises here. I respect the filmmaker trying to present the romcom from a different angle (middle-age), but it quickly becomes as typical and predictable as the rest, especially with Streep's character behaving the way she does you're quickly forced to forget the different angle presented here that the film had going for it.
Baldwin's character is a terrible misogynist, but that's OK when you present his new trophy wife as a b*tch (played by Lake Bell, totally overshadowed by the better acting talent on offer here just as she was in Boston Legal) with a horrible movie-child, clashing terribly with the too-perfect grown up children Streep and Baldwin's characters had when they were first married.
Streep's character is the most insipid, self-indulgent, shallow character since Carrie Bradshaw. She's impossible to like. For 5 minutes at the start of the film we're presented with a few scenes making it blatantly obvious how alone she's become, 2 minutes after that problem solved, she's in bed with her punch-in-the-face persistent ex-husband Baldwin (leave aside any indication of why they got divorced in the first place, save for a few gratuitous hints that are meant to be quickly forgotten) after giggling like a schoolgirl at the nauseating crap he spouts to get her into bed, which of course leads to the 'complications' the film's title suggests when she meets Steve Martin, the 'perfect guy' you know she's going to end up with. Hard to feel any sympathy for her. I was waiting for her to ask one other character how they were, how their life was going, anything. None of that. She basically plays a 60 year old totally self-absorbed teenager, again giggling like a schoolgirl with her fleeting friends about the sex she's having with her ex in one painful scene.
Steve 'not funny any more' Martin might have been a guy who by the looks of him 15 or 20 years ago was going to age gracefully, but unfortunately he has not let that happen. His face looks like it could melt at any moment, not one wrinkle to be seen, for me taking away any credibility his character might have had. Don't let him near that baking oven, Meryl! We could have a scene akin to the classic facemelting one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Actually, it might have been entertaining to see what would've happened to Steve's face had he gone too near a heat source.
Add to this a forced performance by John 'Jim' Kraszinski, I love him in The Office but here he ironically seems to be presented as a comic relief to all the 'serious' stuff that's going on, and also add to this a terribly contrived scene at a party where the oldies get 'soooo wasted' off one or two puffs of a joint, a scene which ends up falling totally flat and just gets annoying, and you have a film I really had trouble sitting through.
I hate films that give the viewer no credit whatsoever. We're just supposed to accept a lot of things when we watch certain comedies for the sake of a few laughs. This is certainly one of those. No laughs (for me anyway), bad dialogue, unrealistic characters that are impossible to like or relate to in any way, predictable plot, annoying children... doesn't get much worse than this.
Avoid at all costs.
Nancy Meyers is famous for tapping into a largely ignored market:
middle-aged women. She acknowledges that women don't cease to exist
after they grow older than Jessica Alba (anyone older than that loses
their sex appeal in the eyes of movie studios, and that's the only
thing that keeps audiences interested in these sorts of movies).
I am not a member of this market. However, I am open to movies to which I am not a targeted member. That, and I love Meryl Streep. I have seen Nancy Meyers' previous effort, "Something's Gotta Give," a movie that started out okay, but ended up being an overlong disaster that I hated. Still, this movie sounded promising, especially with Streep, who has never made a bad movie, so I checked it out. While it is certainly better than "Something's Gotta Give," it is nowhere near a complete success.
Jane (Meryl Streep) is a divorced mother of three, and an empty nester. Years after her divorce, she's finally gotten her life back together (or at least she thinks she does). However, her life is going to get a little...complicated. Her ex, Jake (Alec Baldwin) has just realized that he is still in love with Jane, and they ensue in an affair (which, ironically, was one of the reasons why they divorced in the first place). At the same time, she's also attracted the attention of her architect, Adam (Steve Martin). Now Jane has to balance these two romances out, and complications ensue.
Meryl Streep is widely recognized as one of the greatest actresses alive (and in my opinion, one of the best who ever lived). Yet with 13 Oscar nods, she hasn't done much in the way of comedy. She got a taste of it in last year's "Mamma Mia," but with this film, she gets to do some scenes that are openly funny. And she shows everyone that she can be just as successful in a comedy as a drama. Many of the film's comic scenes wouldn't be as funny without her. Her co-stars, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, are no stranger to being funny, and Streep manages to keep up with them. Speaking of, Baldwin and Martin are on the same level as Streep. Baldwin is equally good in the comic scenes as well the dramatic scenes, and so is Martin (surprisingly...he hasn't gotten much chance to do drama. Hopefully, this performance will signal a change, because he's got some good dramatic chops as well as comic aptitude). Had this film been better directed, they could have been looking at some Oscar nods. Special mention has to go to John Krasinski, because even though he became famous for the ultra-understated humor of "The Office," he is also great at more energetic humor too. Lake Bell has little to do than be a post-trophy wife that is often referenced, but not seen.
Nancy Meyers may have tapped into the market for middle aged women, but she's only at the top because she's the only one in it. Meyers is not an especially great screenwriter or director. The dialogue is nothing special, and her direction is flat, which renders the drama more inert than it should be. The comedy only works because of the actors, not Meyers; this should be construed as a compliment to Streep, Baldwin and Martin, since the comedy is not adequately set up. Many of the plot points exist because Meyers is trying to follow the formula of "romantic comedy," even if what happens doesn't make sense.
If you like Meyers' films, it's a film to check out. If not, I don't think its worth your time.
Almost a ten for me. 53 year old male who prefers romantic comedy to
action-adventure. This film had a wit and a appreciate of today's woman
that made the film very slice of life for me. Beautiful scenes,
hilarious wit and almost slapstick. This film is not for the prudish
but is by no means obscene. Just great adult fare and Meryl Streep can
now do anything. This year she has been Julia Child, Mamma Mia and now
the Other Woman. I'd want her back too. Bravo, Nancy, Bravo.
I have never enjoyed Alec Baldwin, but he was light and funny in this film and the pairing really worked. Steve Martin's role was purposely a little flat but he did underplay things well.
John Krasinski is a true scene-stealer. Like Streep, with just a knowing glance or a facial expression, he causes laughs and audiences will just enjoy him.
Best romantic comedy since Something's Gotta Give. Baldwin is no Nicholson, but this was a better script and Streep has no match.
From time to time Hollywood comes up with a surprise product and this movie is one of those surprises. This movie was actually good. It had an actual STORY. The movie is a comedy but has its serious moments too. Meryl Streep was great, Steve Martin was toned down in a support role, but the real star is Alex Baldwin whose presence props up this movie and transforms it into a good if not great cinematic work. As much as the director tries to make this movie a Meryl Streep vehicle, Mr. Baldwin steals the show. This has to be his best movie in years, maybe in his entire career. He is a combination of amusing, charming, and serious and whenever the movie starts dragging a "dose" of Mr. Baldwin is enough to get it back on track. What a wonderful performance by an excellent actor. Parts of the movie are hilarious, such as the bedroom scene with Ms. Streep, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Martin (it's not what you think it is) but generally the humor tends to be at the level of chuckles instead of guffaws. Good movie, worth watching.
It's Complicated is simply enjoyable. A good romantic comedy is a
rarity, so who better than rom-com specialist Nancy Meyers (The
Holiday, Something's Gotta Give, What Women Want) to write and direct
yet another? Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) have been
married for ten years and divorced for fifteen, but while attending
their son's college graduation sparks fly between the old flames. But
Jake's still married to the much younger Agness (Lake Bell), and Jane's
architect and fellow divorceé Adam (Steve Martin) remains an
interesting and sensible possibility. This puts everyone on a
roller-coaster ride of what-ifs, which includes Jane and Jake's three
It's a treat to see excellent actors delivering the laughs, especially when it looks like they're having a great time, too. In particular, John Krasinski (The Office) stands out in his supporting role as Harley, Jane and Jake's future son-in-law, who accidentally finds out about the affair before everyone else. Streep shines, as usual, while Baldwin eases into his newfound role of go-to comedy guy since his career-reviving 30 Rock success. The usually slapstick Martin surprisingly turns in a more toned down performance, which is a relief.
It's wonderful to see intelligent lead roles still being written for mature actors that doesn't exclude younger audiences. The story and characters have broad appeal; the dilemmas remain relevant regardless of age and so are the punch lines. It's Complicated is ironically comforting in its effortlessness.
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