Who’s In It: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, John Krasinski, Lake Bell, Zoe Kazan, Rita Wilson, Alexandra Wentworth, Mary Kay Place
The Basics: Meryl Streep has rich white people problems, like dealing with her lingering feelings for the ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) who’s now married to his much younger mistress and figuring out where to put the second kitchen add-on in her sprawling Santa Barbara ranch house. Moreover, she’s over 50 and single, so with the exception of her mousy architect (Steve Martin), her ex is the best dating option she’s got. Oh, what’s a beautiful older woman with a thriving bakery business and an amazing home and three normal grown children to do? Writer-director Nancy Meyers has a solution for Meryl’s terrible, horrible life problems: have an affair with your ex-husband!
What’s The Deal: Thanks to its able cast and spot-on dialogue, It’s Complicated rolls along with a crackling energy as it sets up the love affair between Jane (Streep) and Jake (Baldwin). Grown-ups will relate to the feelings behind their illicit reconciliation, though adultery is always a tough sell in the movies and Baldwin comes off as a bit of a cad. (Since Jake’s cheating on his evil current wife, who used to be his mistress when he was married to Jane, we’re supposed to think it’s totally ok.) Thankfully, Meyers sees the absurdity in the ups and downs of the post-mid life crisis and dances a fine line between seriousness and humor, serving up a romantic comedy with maturity. (It’s also an unusual fantasy for older female audiences, who rarely get to see their heroines so easily win their man from the clutches of their younger, sexed-up rivals.) But as the plot plods on and Meryl slowly, slowly figures out which beau will win her heart, It’s Complicated becomes It’s Complicated and It’s Taking Too Long and by the time Meyers wraps up her story around the two-hour mark, you no longer care what the hell happens to anyone in this upper middle class ‘burb.
Thank Goodness For: John Krasinski, who shows up to inject the old people drama with his trademark Jim charisma. As the fiancé of Jane’s oldest daughter, his character isn’t really necessary, but helps bridge the generation gap as the only young person to figure out what’s going on between the dallying divorcees.
Who’s Wasted: Steve Martin. Aside from the fact that the 64-year-old is beginning to look like a Shar-Pei, the once wild and crazy guy is unusually bland as the reserved architect who catches Jane’s eye just by being nice. It’s no fun seeing him play the straight man, although it is far less irritating than watching him in those horrid Pink Panther movies. So any project that keeps him away from playing Inspector Clouseau again can be considered a public service.
Who Will Like It: Your mom and her friends. They’ll get a kick out of seeing Meryl smoke pot, gossip with her friends (Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place, and Alexandra Wentworth, who have but one scene together), have sex, and say things like, “Turns out I’m a bit of a slut!”