Sunday, December 27, 2009


Director and screenwriter Nancy Meyers knows her audience and she caters to them with dedication.  Her latest work It's Complicated stars heavyweights Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin and it is a love story centering around a middle-aged woman, not seen often enough in Hollywood.

Streep plays Jane, divorced mother of four who gets involved in an affair with former husband Jake, played by Baldwin after they both fly to New York City for their son Luke's (Hunter Parrish) graduation.  The catch however, is that Jake is now married to a woman 25 years his junior, Agness (Lake Bell).  As their affair continues, Jane and Jake struggle to keep the affair a secret and question is raised to whether or not things might work around a second time for them.  Jake's wife Agness is controlling and perhaps this is his escape from a life he doesn't want anymore.  Jane perhaps is lonely after having been single for ten years.

A successful bakery owner, Jane decides to have her home renovated and she enlists the help of an architect, Adam (Steve Martin) who is a recent divorcee.  Sparks begin to fly between them both, and Jane is caught between renewed ties to her ex-husband and this new guy she develops feelings for.  The always likable John Krasinski (Away We Go) plays Jane's soon-to-be son in law Harley and by chance, he spots Jane and Jake at a hotel together for a rendezvous.

The story unfolds in a hilarious scene where Jake realizes that Jane has feelings for Adam. After separating from his new wife, Jake then moves in temporarily to Jane's home.  He tries seducing Jane in her bedroom while she is having a webcam chat with Adam, not realizing the webcam is on when she steps away and he enters the room.  This hilarious incident ultimately triggers Jane to make a decision: does she go with her ex-husband or with a genuinely nice guy she really hasn't given a fair chance in having an affair with her ex-husband?  Better yet, will Adam forgive Jane after realizing that Jake longs to be with her again?

There are plenty of lewd jokes to be found in It's Complicated and the humour gets kicked up a notch with a scene where Jane decides to split some marijuana with Adam.  One cannot accuse Streep of not branching out in her role choices as she is required to do a good number of love scenes here and above that, potsmoking.  Streep as always is excellent, as is Baldwin.  Martin pulls back significantly here but is endearing too.

Meyers' screenplay however, introduces a few plotlines which never quite get wrapped-up neatly: eldest daughter Lauren (Caitlin Fitzgerald) and Harley are apparently getting married and it is mentioned a few times, but never really goes anywhere and this is also the case with the plotline between Agness and Jake whom we never quite get a true sense of as a couple in order to understand where Jake is coming from and why he is driven to cheat again.  It is implied also at the start that Jane is experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome with her children growing up and leaving home, but we never get a sense of their absence as they are constantly hovering about.  Also, I want to know most is how Jane is able to manage a bakery, have an affair, date a guy on the side also, yet also have time to make all these amazing meals we see in the film for her family.  A modern day superhero.

Overall, Universal Pictures' It's Complicated is lots of fun and although not amazing, it is entertaining enough.  Despite being geared towards 40+ women, the showing I attended was comprised mostly of women in their 20s - a true testament to Streep's cross-generational appeal.  Grade: B-

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