“It’s Complicated”* tells the story of Jane and Jake Adler. Jane (Meryl Streep) is the mother of three grown kids (Luke (Hunter Parrish), Lauren (Caitlin Fitzgerald), and Gabby (Zoe Kazan)). Ten years ago, Jane divorced Jake (Alec Baldwin, and now owns a thriving Santa Barbara bakery/restaurant and has an amicable relationship with him. Jake has since remarried the much younger Agnes (Lake Bell), and is now step-father to the six-year-old Pedro. However, when Jane and Jake find themselves out of town for their son’s college graduation, an innocent meal together turns into the unimaginable – an affair. This both bothers Jane, for she is now in the role of the other woman, and delights her, as a fifty-ish woman seen as attractive and sexual. Caught in the middle of their renewed romance is Adam (Steve Martin), an architect hired to remodel Jane’s kitchen. Healing from a divorce of his own, Adam starts to fall for Jane, but soon realizes he’s become part of a love triangle. Also caught up in the affair is Harley (John Krasinski), Lauren’s fiancee, who sees Jake and Jane one day at a hotel.
[* description modified from the one provided by Yahoo Movies]
There are a number of ways to look at this movie, especially as it is felt in some reviews as a “chick flick”. In many ways it is: there are loads of jokes and comments about divorce and older women that put into the genre that includes “The First Wives Club”. At the showing we attended there were a large number of women in the audience. As the various chick-flick punch lines came out, you could here audience eat it up, for there was a very distinct change in pitch of the laughter. It was quite interesting to listen too.
Setting aside the chick-flick aspects, the story itself was pretty funny. There are a number of laugh-out-loud scenes (including one, alas, that had me laughing so hard it triggered the headache). The cast worked quite well together, and you can really see why a number of these folks had such a long career as they have had (I’m thinking of Streep and Martin). We have so few members of the acting community that fall into the star category these days for the range of their talents, and these two are clearly in that category. The other lead, Alec Baldwin, was also surprisingly good. I haven’t seen him before in films, and (as I don’t watch “30 Rock”) rarely have seen him on TV, but he has great comic timing and charm. The other actor I want to single out is Hunter Parrish: this is a young man who has done excellent work in TV (“Weeds”), stage (“Spring Awakening”), and now film. I think he will grow into someone well worth watching.
As someone who turns 50 in less than a month, I also found this movie refreshing in its treatment of women of my generation. Meryl Streep was born in 1949, making her 61. The film didn’t try to airbrush her youth: on the screen you saw the wrinkles and the crows feet of a life well spent. Yet the film portrayed her as not hindered by her age, as someone beautiful and sexual and desirable. This is a good thing — there is beauty in women of all ages that must be recognized. This film does that quite successfully. Further, then men lusting after her were no spring chickens either: Steve Martin is 65, and Alec Baldwin is 52. The movie makers didn’t go the easy route and have the ex-husband competing with a much younger man: they had the courage to make the ex-husband compete with an older man. A very good thing to see.
Was this movie “high art”? No. This is clearly a fun relationship flick… one of the types of stories (the movie was written and directed by Nancy Meyers) that works well on screen and will work well on the TV screen (and hell, might make a good sitcom). You want “high art”, go see “Invictus”. But this movie was fun, and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.
As for the previews: Again, nothing much to write home about. “Extraordinary Measures” (which has been advertised to death on TV) looks like a movie of the week. DisneyNature’s “Oceans” is a nature-flick. “Leap Year” looks like another movie aimed at the couples audience with its story about a girl trying to propose to one man while falling for another. “The Bounty Hunter” is yet another relationship movie: bounty hunter hired to retrieve his ex-wife, and soon both are on the run. “Babies” seems to tell the stories of four babies, but I can’t see a real plotline there. None of these trailers made me lust after any of these movies.