Rating: R (some drug content, sexuality)
Length: 120 minutes
Release Date: December 25, 2009
Directed by: Nancy Meyers
Stars: 3 out of 5
If you were asked to list some of Meryl Streep’s films off the top of your head, most of them would be the high drama ones that she won Oscars and other accolades for. Comedies would likely not make the list, because she is remembered for her more passionate, teary-eyed films. That is why it is so nice to see her having fun in a romantic comedy like “It’s Complicated.”
Streep stars as Jane Adler, a successful bakery owner who is also a divorcee. She is beautiful, smart, funny and owns her own business, yet her husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) cheated on her with the younger Agness (Lake Bell). They divorced, and she had to watch as he moved on with Agness and her son Pedro (Emjay Anthony) into what seemed like a blissful, happy second marriage.
All is not always what it seems, though. As Jane begins plans to expand her house and enter the next phase of her life, Jake is becoming unhappy in his marriage. Agness wants another baby, but Jake is content to stay with the kids he has, one of which is about to graduate from college. When Jake and Jane make the trip to see him graduate, they both unknowingly book a room at the same hotel.
Jane sits and orders a martini at the hotel bar when Jake walks in. They exchange small talk over a drink, which soon becomes dinner. As you might imagine, some old feelings start to rekindle, leading to them falling into bed together. They have been divorced for ten years, just long enough to forget how good they used to be together, but not long enough to forget the pain that they caused each other, either. This makes their post-coital talk awkward, yet both actors pull it off brilliantly.
Jane swears this was a one-time thing because she does not want to become the other woman. She recalls being the other woman when Jake was secretly hooking up with Agness, and she didn’t like it one bit. There is a tiny part of her that feels like it is sweet revenge though, and the sex was really great, so she inevitably begins an affair with Jake.
While this is happening, the architect helping her with her house expansion, Adam (Steve Martin), seems to have taken a shining to her. Like Jane, he is smart, successful, funny, charming and still reeling from a very painful breakup. He wants to ask Jane out but isn’t sure if he is really dating material.
Jane develops a crush on him and decides to go out with him. She figures she is going to end the affair with Jake anyways, since she is beginning to feel very guilty and conflicted about it. It turns out that it wasn’t really sweet revenge after all, as Jane has a conscience.
The script by director Nancy Meyers draws out the battle between Jake and Adam for Jane’s affections in a really clever way. She sets up several pratfall to keep you highly entertained, including one with Baldwin completely nude that uses his aging, out-of-shape body to great comic effect.
There are also several scenes where Harley (John Krasinski) has some priceless reactions after he finds out about the affair. He is trying his hardest to keep the monumental secret from his sweet fiancé, who happens to be Jake and Jane’s eldest daughter. Krasinski invokes the good-guy persona that he has perfected as Jim Halpert on “The Office” to make Harley believable. He also seems to have a rubber face in a standout, albeit small, role.
Streep had had such excellent chemistry with her costars that she could probably have chemistry with a phone book at this point. She is a pro though and through, and proves it here with her interactions with both Baldwin and Martin. You really believe that she was once in love with Baldwin and that she could be happy again with Martin, depending on if she chooses him or not.
Meyers waits until the last minute to reveal who Jane is going to pick. In most romantic comedies, this dragging out of the ending is a chore to sit through and is often unnecessary. That is not the case with “It’s Complicated,” which manages to almost make you forget that a resolution has to be reached because of the comedy pratfalls that distract you in the best way possible. There is an ending, though, and it is played out wonderfully by a veteran cast who is clearly having a blast, just like the audience.