It’s Complicated (2009)

Directed by: Nancy Meyers

Premise: A divorced woman (Meryl Streep) begins an affair with her now remarried ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) while also starting a relationship with a recently divorced architect (Steve Martin).

What Works: It’s Complicated follows a mostly predictable romantic triangle plot but it does that formula well and the film owes a lot to some strong performances by Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, and Meryl Streep. Staring actors in their fifties and sixties, It’s Complicated distinguishes itself from other romantic comedies by playing on the particulars of post-middle age life and the family dynamics of divorced couples. The film finds comedy and drama in the awkwardness of aging and the remnants of hurt and pain from the divorce. The comedy of the film plays best when it gets naughty and even a bit raunchy and that crudeness gives the romance some dimension of reality.

What Doesn’t: The roles of the children do not work as well as their parents. The tone of their scenes is way off, with awkward dialogue that attempts to be hip but rings false. The children’s dramatic scenes hit the subtext too hard on the head and fill with sentimentality. The children are also very flat characters that are way too idealized; no one carries any baggage or rivalry and they all get along like they are out of a 1950s television show.

Bottom Line: It’s Complicated is an average romantic triangle. The film has some novelty in the age of the lead actors and the dynamics of its family relationships but it’s also very predictable and doesn’t reveal much about romance beyond what the title implies.

 

Episode: #273 (January 17, 2010)