Thursday, January 21, 2010

It’s Complicated

I went to see another movie over the holidays.  It’s Complicated is a traditional romantic comedy except that it is about old people.  Which is kind of nice since I’m starting to classify myself as an old person.  

Meryl Streep’s character, Jane, and Alec Baldwin’s character, Jake, have been divorced for ten years and she thinks she is finally over it and starting to feel “normal”.   It is clear at the beginning of the film that she is not.   Her friends tell her she needs to date someone but her head is just not there.  This is beautifully presented when her architect and his partner come to present the plans for her new home addition.  Jane’s focus is completely on the man that she knows (the ‘safe’ man) despite the fact that he keeps telling her that Adam (Steve Martin) has done all the work.   It isn’t clear at that point that Adam is a single man but that doesn’t matter.   Jane is not open to new people especially new men.

The film is the story of how Jane opens herself up and starts to take chances.   As I said, it’s simply a romantic comedy but I liked it.  I laughed aloud a lot.

All three of the lead actors (Streep, Baldwin and Martin) do a good job, especially Martin who plays Adam in a very understated way.   This makes it all the funnier when Adam and Jane get stoned and Martin gets to use some of his old crazy act.  Baldwin isn’t really much different than his character on 30 Rock but that didn’t matter.   Streep is, as usual, perfect. 

The writers gave Jane three girl friends because … well because three must be the magic number for girl friends in movies.   I say this because Mary Kay Place was almost completely unused except in reaction shots so I wasn’t clear why she was needed.  But no matter.

Jane and Jake were also given three children and they were fine.  But the oldest daughter’s fiance, Harley (John Krasinski), almost steals the movie.   It is hard to do that and play a character that is “perfect” but Krasinki pulls it off.   He is the son-in-law and brother-in-law that every couple would want and he makes this clear without ever being given anything to do that any son-in-law/brother-in-law character is ever given to do in a movie.   And Krasinski pulls off the comedy perfectly when Harley inadvertently discovers Jane and Jake are having an affair.

There isn’t really much to say about this movie, no deep analysis necessary.   It isn’t by any stretch of the imagination multilayered.  This is a film that says that no matter how old you are you are still going to sometimes act and think like an insecure teenager.   A point that is driven home (not subtly) at the end when Steve Martin’s character has a wonderfully adult reaction to a bad turn of affairs and Meryl Streep’s character, in a bit of shock, says something about how adult the conversation is.  

It worked for me. It is what it is and does what it does very well.  If you are looking for a romantic comedy to see in a theater, go see it.   Or wait for it to come out on DVD.   Or both.