Despite being strapped with one of the year's blandest and most uninteresting movie titles, "It's Complicated" is proof positive that Meryl Streep truly does improve every film she's while while also serving as proof positive that she's still not quite mastered picking the right comedies to match her abundant comic gifts.
The latest film from writer/director Nancy Meyers ("Something's Gotta Give"), "It's Complicated" is the not so complicated story of Jane (Meryl Streep), a divorced mother of three growing kids and owner of a successful Santa Barbara bakery just beginning to contemplate the good ole' fashioned empty nest syndrome as the last of her kids heads off to college and she's left to her own devices. When a trip to her oldest son's graduation leads to a chance encounter with her ex, Jake (Alec Baldwin), what begins as an innocent dinner leads to an evening of lots and lots of drinking followed by lots and lots of...
Well, you get the idea.
Jake, a successful attorney who left Jane for a younger hottie (Lake Bell), with whom he now dwells in a rather unsatisfying marriage with, you guessed it, a bratty, spoiled child. Of course, Jake still pines for Jane and, well, Jane can't seem to make up her mind what she wants and just sort of goes along with it all. Then, Jane meets Adam (Steve Martin), who's the architect assigned to help her remodel her home and who is, himself, struggling to get over a challenging divorce.
"It's Complicated" can best be described as the perfect film for fans of, well, Nancy Meyers herself. If you enjoyed "Something's Gotta Give" or any of Meyers' other films such as "The Holiday" or "What Women Want," then odds are pretty strong in favor of your enjoying "It's Complicated." While this film is unlikely to attract the same crowd as say, "The Hangover," Meyers has found herself a cinematic formula that audiences enjoy and "It's Complicated" rests comfortably right smack dab in the center of it.
Despite being given barely anything substantial to do, Streep is a delight in "It's Complicated," displaying a nice blend of lighthearted, adult humor with a satisfying amount of emotional gravitas that makes us truly invested in Jane as she weaves her way through the Jake/Adam relationship dilemma. While several scenes will feel like a repeat of Diane Keaton's character in "Something's Gotta Give," Streep is so utterly captivating onscreen that one easily forgets that we've seen this all before.
Unfortunately, the same isn't quite as true for either Baldwin or Martin, both of whom are playing only slight variations on their most common screen roles. Baldwin, as the confident attorney Jake, basically spoofs yet again his hotshot, macho image while trying to convince us (and Jane) that he's somehow her perfect match. Instead, it's hard not to wonder how she ever fell in love with him in the first place. Baldwin's exception may very well be oen of the film's most spot-on perfect scenes involving Skype, videoconferencing and the sort of exposure that would humble even the confident Baldwin.
Martin, as well, plays yet another intelligent, quiet and sensitive nice guy whose Mr. Right basically because he couldn't possibly be wrong. While there's certainly nothing wrong with Martin's performance, well, there's really nothing particularly right about it either.
Far more convincing is supporting player John Krasinski ("Away We Go"), whose spin as the hubby-to-be of one of Jane's daughters affords the film its most heartfelt laughs and some genuinely delightful scenes between he and Streep.
John Toll's camera work is perfectly fine, while the original score by Hans Zimmer and Heitor Pereira complements the film nicely. Production values, in general, are solid across the board.
Earlier in the year there was some concern about the potential for Streep having two award-worthy performances this year, with her highly acclaimed performance as Julia Child in "Julie & Julia" already widely recognized and Streep having received Golden Globe nominations for both films. While both performances are strong, Streep's turn as Julia Child is clearly the frontrunner and could finally lead to the oft-nominated actress's third golden statuette.