Friday, February 19, 2010

*It's Complicated*

I doubt Nancy Meyers meant to be ironic when she titled her film (which she wrote and directed) It's Complicated. I assure you, complicated it's not. Not only is the film a color-by-numbers (and at times funny and charming) romantic dramedy, but it's also a fairy tale that shamelessly panders to the fantasies of middle-aged women. Still, who am I to begrudge that infrequently-pandered-to demographic a movie of their own?

Meryl Streep plays Jane Adler, an independent divorcée whose life is ridiculously perfect: she has a breathtaking house in Santa Barbara (which is about to be made even more breathtaking); owns a charming bakery of the kind that only exist in films set in California; has three smart, pretty, and emotionally mature children (plus one smart, pretty, emotionally mature soon-to-be son-in-law); and has an enviable relationship with her ex-husband of ten years, Jake (Alec Baldwin, who plays a toned-down version of Jack Donaghy, who is, in turn, just an amped-up right wing version of Alec Baldwin). There's only one chip in this Steuben Glass vase: Jane is still single. Not to worry ladies, Nancy Meyers has got you covered!

Though Jake is married to the ridiculously gorgeous (and young) Agness (whom he left Jane for), he still pines for his ex-wife. Early in the film, Jane and Jake share a drunken night out that ends in a wild romp in bed. Their sexual rediscovery leads to a full blown affair and, yada yada yada, things get complicated. (Hey, that's the title!) Adding to Jane's predicament (you see, now she's the other woman) is Adam Schaffer (a defanged Steve Martin), the architect working on an addition to her already-perfect home, who is himself recovering from a divorce and is beginning to fall in love with her. What's an older gal to do?

Really, does it matter? This film hangs together on, and is only worth seeing for, the genius of Streep and Baldwin, who have some truly wonderful romantic and comedic chemistry, to boot. And despite how formulaic the film is, the lead characters' maturity sets the film apart from generic chick flick fluff. (As Jane says at one point, "Wow, it's nuts how grownups talk.")

Everyone needs escapism, including older women, and It's Complicated is not bad escapism by any measure. Let's just hope that it's also the beginning of a trend that will result in films worthy of their target audience.