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Movie Review: It’s Complicated

December 25, 2009

It's Complicated posterHeavy hitters Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin team up for this screwball comedy that is a lot more funny than you might imagine.  I can’t really blame you if you figured a movie about a love triangle of empty-nesters would be a giant snore, but that is hardly the case.  Laugh for laugh, It’s Complicated holds its own with The Hangover, which is widely regarded to be the most funny movie of the year.

Meryl Streep plays Jane, a divorced mother of three who runs a successful bakery, owns a beautiful house, and seems quite happy to be independent.  Prior to their son’s graduation from college, she is forced to join her ex Jake (Alec Baldwin) and his tacky trophy wife at a party.  Jane is the epitome of class and grace when she has to converse with her ex and his wife (Lake Bell) who has been slinking about the party in a ridiculously inappropriate midriff-baring outfit.

When everyone arrives in New York for the ceremony, she discovers that they are all staying at the same hotel.  Jane is dining in the hotel lounge alone when she sees her ex, sans wife.  Seems the wife’s child has taken ill and she returned home.  Jake joins Jane and wine, brandy, then shots flow.  The two end up in bed, and when they awake Jake is grinning like a Cheshire cat, and Jane quite literally becomes ill.  Jake believes that this is all a sign that they should give their relationship a second shot, so soon the two start sneaking around having “an affair.”

Things do get a little more complicated when a sweet architect (Steve Martin) who is designing an addition for Jane’s house starts developing feelings for Jane.  Suddenly Jane has two men vying for her attention and disrupting her previously boring life.

The main reason this film is so good is because of the talent.  Alec Baldwin, who is pure comic gold on television’s 30 Rock, is absolutely hysterical.  Here he is as self-deprecating as can be, as many of the gags in the movie revolve around his rotund physique and excessively hairy body.  When he tries to pose provocatively for Jane, trust me, its not an alluring sight.  I think the majority of actors would be too vain to pull off this role, so thank you to Mr. Baldwin for diving right in.

Meryl is of course, Meryl.  She is beautiful, but looks her age, which is refreshing.  She holds her own well with Martin and Baldwin, and I think she does a great job of conveying all the emotions that a person in her situation would feel.  Martin is good as well, and really effective at tugging on your heart strings for being the underdog trying to woo Jane.

The film also touches on the emotional fallout (even ten years later) that evolves from a divorce, especially for the children.

There is a scene in the movie that involves a joint, a party,  and the three principal actors that is one of the funniest scenes I have watched in a movie, ever.  The entire audience was shrieking with laughter, and it was a blast.

After Something’s Gotta Give and now this, writer and director Nancy Myers proves she has  a finger firmly on the pulse of the middle aged divoréee.  She pokes fun at the aging men who marry younger women.  She makes us snicker at the trophy wife’s giant tiger tattoo on her shoulder, and the forced trips to the fertility clinic that Jake endures because his new wife is in her baby making prime. However, she  does a great job at putting out a product that is universally appealing to men and women.  This is a movie that anyone can enjoy.

It is far from flawless, the movie is too long, and suffers from a mediocre script. It also falls into the safe trap of making the trophy wife look completely evil so you won’t feel guilty cheering for Jake to cheat on her.  If she were sympathetic, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

If you want to go have some good laughs and watch some great acting, this is going to fit the bill.  I also believe that if you are a member of the first wives club, you’ll find it particularly satisfying.

Rating 4/5


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