We at Best For Film are probably safely in the majority if we say we’ve never seen Meryl Streep in a bad movie. So it’s not too surprising that in recession-era Hollywood, where only the surefire box-office earners are getting made, a rom-com with her name in the top billing is one of January’s big releases. When you add director Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give) to the mix, it’s virtually a written guarantee to fans of the genre that you’re in for an enjoyable 90 minutes. And with Meyers’ generally sharp and incisive writing, it might even be a cut above your average brainless rom-com. It’s Complicated certainly delivers on the first count, but whether it does on the second is debatable.
You Go, Girl
The film follows Jane Adler (Streep), an accomplished, well-put-together fifty-something woman who’s been quite happily divorced from her adulterous ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) for 10 years. Her comfortable single life is thrown into chaos, however, after a drunken night at her son’s graduation when she and Jake end up in bed together. Copying the format of Something’s Gotta Give with almost shameless similarity, the affair reawakens in the previously regimented Jane a sense of the fun and possibilities in life – even more so when she meets affable architect Adam (Steve Martin) and establishes quite the saucy love triangle for herself. Of course, we all know it’s going to end in disaster, but probably with a few amusing comedy-of-errors moments in between, especially when you throw in the fact that Jake is predictably remarried to a young, hot stick-insect (Lake Bell).
Not Quite A Winner
Despite having all the customary facets of a Meyers film – the sets straight from Vogue Living, the pleasantly neurotic heroine, the support cast of bumbling suitors and picture-perfect all-American children (Hunter Parrish, Zoe Kazan and Caitlin Fitzgerald) – It’s Complicated lacks the charm of her previous works. There’s laughs enough from Streep and Martin, particularly in one hilarious scene where the two decide to smoke a joint before a family get-together. Baldwin is at his amusingly chauvinistic best and there are some scene-stealing moments from the US Office‘s John Krasinski as Jane’s son-in-law, who finds himself an unwitting confidant in her and Jake’s affair. But the plot doesn’t ring quite as true or as poignant as it should – there’s just too much fluff for many real emotions to come through, despite the cast’s best efforts. And Streep’s gaggle of giggling middle-aged girlfriends (Rita Wilson, Ali Wentworth and Mary Kay Place) are too cliché for words.
It’s disappointing to admit as we thought this had all the hallmarks of an unusually intelligent offering to the rom-com genre. But despite some brief, shining moments, It’s Complicated still falls flat.