It’s Complicated (Universal Pictures, R)

film_complicated_sm.gifIt’s Complicated isn’t really all that complicated, but it’s fun.

 

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By now you’ve surely seen the trailer. Ex-spouses begin an affair which they hide—to various degrees of ensuing hilarity—from their grown children, and which threatens not only the remarriage of the man but the budding relationship of the woman. The trailer makes it look cute—sometimes overly so—and hey, it’s Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, so how wrong can you go?

Turns out the answer to that question depends on your expectations. If you’re looking for actors who plumb the depths of their characters, a story which follows a fresh and surprising path, and an ending that isn’t something you yourself would have written, then this probably isn’t the movie for you. (Yes, I’m talking to you, film snobs.) But if you’re looking for light entertainment—and, let’s face it, actors who, though they’re playing to type, are still some of the finest around—then this is the perfect film for you.

Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) are exes. Jake left Jane for a much younger woman, whom he married (after she first left him for another man, and then returned with said other man’s child). Jake, beginning to second guess his choices, suddenly finds his ex-wife magnetically appealing. After a bit of coercion on his part—which includes far too many bottles of wine at a hotel bar — the two begin an affair, having the best sex of their relationship, past or present. Ever the pragmatist, Jane remains aloof and unattached. She’s a professional, for goodness sake; with a successful bakery business (very successful if the size of her house and its planned remodel is any indication), she has built a life around not needing a man. Though she speaks often about how long it took her to overcome the end of her marriage, we never quite believe her. This woman has it all together…except, in the eyes of her friends, for her utter and complete lack of male companionship.

Enter Jake, a thrilling yet stress-inducing diversion. As with Jane, we are told of Jake’s past transgressions, not just his betrayal but his long hours at work and general inconsideration for her feelings or needs. Though we see his present infidelity, his wife Agness is pain in such an unfavorable (and stereotypical) light that we cannot help but root for his renewed relations with Jane.

Maybe it’s just me, but I found myself rooting for their reunion. Jake seemed sincere; he was thoughtful, complimentary, contrite. Yet there was competition in the form of Adam (Steve Martin), the architect engineering Jane’s (extensive; it must be said) remodel. Again, maybe it’s just me, but I found Adam to be dry, quiet, generally unexciting. You know before the movie begins that the "climax" will find Jane having to make a choice. Which way will she go? Seriously; any one of us could have written the ending.

Still, despite my nitpicking, It’s Complicated remains a highly entertaining and fun diversion. Streep, as always, is utterly charming, fully embodying the role of Jane with all the right moods and expressions. Of course, Baldwin is perfect in his role as well, and Martin—well, I suppose if I liked his character more I might like his performance more…but I don’t. (See above re: quiet and generally unexciting.) The movie piles on the slapstack a time or two too often, but its heart is generally in the right place. It’s Complicated isn’t really all that complicated, but it’s fun. Go for a break from the cold, go to get away from the overbearing family this holiday season, or go just for a chance to laugh for an evening. | Laura Hamlett

 

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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