Dave's Rating:


More like "Weirdsies," really.

Who's In It: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin

The Basics: Divorced spouses, one of whom is already unhappily remarried, have an affair with each other. This possible real-life scenario takes place on another planet with a name that sounds just like Santa Barbara, a planet where huge homes with beautiful kitchens are not considered "real" (a quote via Meryl S.) until they are renovated and upgraded to the size of a basketball court. On this planet there are magic buckets of money that are deposited into wallets and checking accounts at night when everyone's asleep, it's okay to cheat on your spouse if that spouse is a mean lady who wants to make you do stuff you don't like, you can smoke weed and drive while high and everyone thinks it's adorable, and people whip up complex pastry treats whenever it tickles their fancy. So it's science fiction, kind of like Avatar but with way more warm chocolate croissants (and you'd better say it like "kwahssohn" or you're out).

What's The Deal: Careful readers will note that I did not once bemoan the massive luxury overdose taking place on screen. That's because it's more fun to be rich. Everyone knows that. Nobody hated the Huxtables or the Beverly Hillbillies or Nick and Nora Charles for being loaded, so it's silly to hate Meryl Streep's divorced lady for having all the resources she needs. (And all of the resources of a hundred other people too.) If you're going to hate it for anything then hate it for being emotionally moronic for a major chunk of its running time. That is, until the oddly loose, semi-unpredictable ending where it sort of redeems itself as a movie for actual grown-ups.

Why Nancy Meyers' Movies Are Normally Way Worse Than This: Because she usually decorates her unrealistic landscape with empty human beings who make no sense except when they're shopping. But to take her entire body of bad filmmaking seriously for minute, if we're talking strictly about the movies she's directed, then this kicks the terrifically dull The Holiday and the toxic What Women Want right in the ass. It's less tender-hearted and intelligent than Something's Gotta Give (thanks to Diane Keaton's winningly neurotic performance, that's really the one that should have had the word "complicated" in the title) but it's also warmer and cuddlier and more human. And what good is a romantic fantasy if you can't hug it like your favorite blankie?

Aside From All The Otherworldly Luxe (aka Director Nancy Meyers' Real Life), See It For: Baldwin. His career-rejuvenating comedic streak rolls on, saving his cad-like character here from being totally loathsome with a big helping of Jack Donaghy's self-unawareness and greedy-child entitlement. He's the new Leslie Nielsen. As Martin turns into a sort of placeholder and Streep's character's pushovery spinelessness starts to wear thin, it becomes Baldwin's movie.

The DVD Commentary Track Starts Now: It already aired, but if you can find a friend who TiVos The Martha Stewart Show, go check out Nancy Meyers making bread pudding with Martha and squirming through a conversation in which Martha badmouths Baldwin as "conniving" and "selfish." Yes, this actually aired as promotion for the film. If you're lucky it's on YouTube already.


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