So, I know I said I’d write a review of It’s Complicated yesterday, but instead I watched Monday’s episode of Chuck (which pretty much tore my heart out) and then like, 6 episodes of the new season of Scrubs (which really doesn’t live up to the show’s previous seasons, but has James Fraco’s younger brother Dave in it stealing every single scene he is in, so I won’t be abandoning this one anytime soon.) I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m so indifferent to writing about Nancy Meyers latest romantic comedy aimed at women over 40, and I think the reason is that while it’s still a funny, charming movie, I was a little underwhelmed by it.
The story – a couple who’s been divorced for 10 years get drunk and end up sleeping together the night before their son’s graduation; Jake (Alec Baldwin) is ecstatic and feels they should pursue this further, while Jane (Meryl Streep) instantly regrets it and tries desperately to resist the urge to have an affair with the man who left her ten years ago – is promising enough. And the cast is absolutely stellar, with Steve Martin rounding out the A list cast as Adam, Jane’s architect who complicates matters further by pursuing Jane. I think what gives me pause when thinking about the movie is how little I cared for the two main characters, Jake and Jane. Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore Meryl Streep and would pay to watch her play a mime, and Alec Baldwin has consistently been one of the funniest men on TV these past 4 years on 30 Rock. But while I enjoyed their performances and laughed on more than one occasion at their antics, I found that I really didn’t care for the characters, especially together.
Baldwin’s Jake is charming, it’s true, but he is also married – to the woman he left Jane for, no less. And while Agness (played by the underused Lake Bell) is certainly unappealing, it doesn’t make Jake’s pursuits of another woman ok, even if the other woman is his first wife. I found myself not wanting him with Jane because he wasn’t good enough for her. At the same time, I found myself thinking Jane wasn’t good enough for architect Adam and wanting him to find someone who wouldn’t constantly forget her appointments with him, or get high before their first date (though, to be fair, once Adam toked up as well, the whole thing became a lot funnier.) Maybe it was Meyers’ intention to make the audience not want the characters to necessarily get together in the end, maybe that was what made it all so “complicated.” But without relatable, sympathetic characters the story and dialogue weren’t strong enough to sustain the whole film and so I was left wanting more.
One highlight: John Krasinski as Jake and Jane’s future son-in-law who inadvertently stumbles upon their secret love affair and is trying desperately to keep his fiancée and her siblings from finding out. I have loved Krasinski for six years on NBC’s The Office, but this is the first time he’s appeared prominently in a feature film that didn’t physically pain me with its terribleness. Krasinski ends up stealing most of the scenes he is in simply by reacting to double entendres or to each new secret that dawns on him that he must then keep from the others. He is without a doubt the most relatable character in the film and my favourite part of the movie. I also have to say that I was absolutely charmed by Steve Martin’s Adam, who seems to have been Meyers’ token “sweet guy that gets overlooked for so long” for this film. Previous holders of the title have been Jack Black in The Holiday and Keanu Reeves in Something’s Gotta Give, whose characters where both my favourite parts of their respective movies.
Would I recommend the film? Absolutely. It was indeed funny, and if you like romantic comedies then it’s leagues better than most of the dreck out there now. But would I myself ever feel the need to sit through It’s Complicated again? Probably not.
“Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; lick it once and you’ll suck forever.” – Brian Wilson