The film might be called “It’s Complicated,” but it’s really not. Take one predictable script, then add a few romantic-comedy cliches. Be smart enough to mix in two stars with more presence than most other actors, and you’ve got yourself a decent comedy whose many sins are forgivable anytime those stars are on-screen.
The larger-than-life actors in question are Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. She’s a longtime critical darling finally enjoying, in middle age, blockbuster box-office success. He made critics take real notice just a few years ago, but since then he’s done no wrong. They play Jane and Jake, an amicably divorced couple who get along for the sake of their three grown children - though Jane can’t help sneering a little at the young woman, now Jake’s second wife, who stole him away.
The California pair attend their son’s college graduation in New York and, finding themselves at the same hotel bar, share a bottle of wine, then two, then three. They wind up in bed together. She’s horrified; he thinks he’s had an epiphany. He spends the rest of the film trying to convince her - without his second wife’s knowledge - that they’re “on to something.” She’s not sure - she’s a little intrigued by her new architect (played by Steve Martin).
You can guess where this will go - which is one of the problems with the film. Miss Streep and Mr. Baldwin bring a fresh chemistry to the screen, but they’re undermined at every turn by the script, written by director and romcom veteran Nancy Meyers.
Miss Streep is simply, sensationally sexy - an effervescent presence who lights up the screen with her sensuality. Mr. Baldwin is the perfect partner, an alpha male with charm to spare who can speak volumes with a flick of his eyebrow. Mr. Martin doesn’t stand a chance against these two, at least not with the namby-pamby character he plays here. He’s as much a stereotype as the “other woman” (played by Lake Bell). John Krasinski, though, is a lot of fun as Jane and Jake’s son-in-law, who discovers their “affair” - to his horror.
Still, the stars are great fun to watch, especially in one hilarious scene that’s as side-splitting as anything in “Borat.” This might be a comedy about middle-aged love, but it seems Miss Meyers doesn’t believe laughs can come except through the kind of situations found in teen fare like “American Pie.” Miss Streep and Mr. Baldwin, though, unlike their characters, can make anything work.
TITLE: “It’s Complicated”
CREDITS: Written and directed by Nancy Meyers
RATING: R (some drug content and sexuality)
RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
WEB SITE: https://itscomplicatedmovie.com
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS