(Meryl and Alec: Lives of the grad party.)
When it came out last December, many critics attacked It’s Complicated, and it’s blatantly unrealistic Banana-Republic-meets-Restoration-Hardware portrayal of the middle-aged female lifestyle. In reality, however, the film really isn’t that complicated.
Nancy Meyers’ latest rom-com isn’t about selling an overpriced piece of furniture or a effortlessly non-clingy angora sweater (although, they look damn good under Meyers’ overly warm lighting). Like all her other feel-good-past-forty chick flicks (The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give), it is simply meant to make you laugh, cry and want to hug your extended family. And that is more than enough.
The film follows Jane (Meryl Streep), a fifty-something divorcee, who is trying to cope with the last of her close-knit kids leaving the nest for college. She’s feeling old and lonely, spending her days consulting her shrink, working the counter at her high-end bakery and trying to hold up her limp eyelid (she thinks the left one’s especially droopy). But all changes when she meets a new man friend – who just happens to be her former husband, Jake (Alec Baldwin).
Ten years ago, Jake cheated on Jane with a 20-something bimbo and subsequently, ended their 20-year-old union. Now, the tables have turned and Jane has become the other woman. And she’s loving it. And so will you.
Meryl may have got Oscar buzz for her spot-on portrayal of Julia Child in last year’s Julie & Julia, but her performance in this much lighter dramedy is just as entertaining. Whether she’s giggling like a school girl at Jake’s touch, making a chocolate croissant by hand or trying to keep her tears in while watching her baby boy get his diploma, she seems radiantly real and confident in herself and her emotions.
Streep’s co-stars (Baldwin and Steve Martin as Adam) work hard to keep up with her and it shows. The kids are a whole other story. All three siblings overact every reaction shot, making the family look unnecessarily over-dramatic. John Krasinksi does a much better job as the eldest daughter’s hubby-to-be, and the sole keeper of Jane and Jake’s secret. He plays Harley like a anxiety-ridden Jim Halpert, his effortless deadpan delivery and absurd facial expressions out in full force.
The best scene, by far, of this constantly charming comedy, involves Krasinski, Baldwin, Martin and Streep and some extremely potent pot. The gang hot box a bathroom and end up dancing, and giggling their way through the son’s grad party. Sound contrived? It kind of is, but it’s also hysterical.
Just try not to cry laughing as Baldwin randomly blows smoke into his future son-in-law’s mouth and then reenters the room like nothing happened. As Martin declares in his superbly stoned state, this party is so great, you’ll never want to leave. B+
Extras: “The Making of It’s Complicated“, Commentary with Nancy Meyers, Executive Producer Suzanne Farwell, Director of Photography John Toll and Editor Joe Hutshing
Starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. Directed by Nancy Meyers. 121 Minutes. PG