Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

It's Complicated


Review by Mark David Campbell

Would it be fair to say that any movie must be terrific simply because it has Meryl Streep in it?  Some would seem to think so.  And most of the time that would be true.  I think it is more accurate to say, “any movie is better with Meryl Streep in it”.  However, “better” doesn’t necessarily mean “terrific”.  I was expecting “terrific” when I saw that Meryl had received two Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress this year, one for the truly terrific Julie & Julia, and one for this movie, which really can only be called “good” because of Meryl’s presence.  At best.

Meryl plays Jane, who has been amicably divorced from her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) for ten years.  She has remained single, while he rebounded by taking on a trophy wife (Lake Bell) and her truly horrible son (Emjay Anthony).  However, while attending their son’s college graduation, whatever spark they once had are rekindled, and they engage in a drunken-yet-passionate affair.  Hoo boy.

All this is going on at the same time that Jane is having an addition put on to her home, and the architect (Steve Martin), a divorcee himself, has become deeply smitten with her.  So, to recap, Divorced Guy is in love with Divorced Lady who is having a fling with Divorced Lady’s Ex, who is currently married to someone else.  It’s Complicated”?  Hardly.

As I said, this is not a bad movie, but it’s not a great one either.  Director Nancy Meyers is giving us a glimpse of the tribulations of middle-age divorce, and all of the sexual and emotional complications therein, but the characters occupy a world that is completely blah and soulless.  For being so “complicated”, it pretty much follows the handbook step by step for movies like this. 

Streep, of course, is excellent, and so is Baldwin (if you’re not watching 30 Rock, you really should).  My favorite character, though (by far), was John Krasinski, who played Jane and Jake’s future son-in-law Harley.  He had all the best lines, and it was his performance that makes this a marginal thumbs-up recommendation for me.

The trouble with romantic comedies is, when you’ve seen enough of them, they all tend to blur together.  One year from know, I doubt I’ll remember much about It’s Complicated.  Meanwhile, we all know Meryl will just keep chugging along.

3 / 5 stars

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