It’s Complicated Review: Simple Really

January 7, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

its-complicated300 IT’S COMPLICATED: On General Release Friday 8th January

Who said your love life needs to die when you get older? Your libido doesn’t necessarily fold itself into a neat little package for storage. It’s Complicated is a romantic comedy aimed at those “of a certain age” and while there are amusing moments, it’s neither as funny nor as clever as it thinks it is.

Jane (Streep) is a 50-something divorcee. She’s successful and independent but with the last of her children leaving the nest, she’s starting to feel a little lonely. This is all about to change when she begins a passionate love affair with her own ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) who’s now unhappily remarried to a much younger woman (Lake Bell).

This seems like it might work but the situation gets even more complicated as Jane has just started seeing her architect (Steve Martin) and their relationship looks like it might actually be going somewhere.

Streep as always puts in an excellent performance. She seems very comfortable in her own skin and as a result Jane is extremely likable. This is aided by some fantastic chemistry with Alec Baldwin (looking like the world’s cuddliest bear) and it’s essential to make their 15 year marriage believable and natural – you really do get the sense that they’ve known each other forever.
John Krasinski is also excellent as Jane’s son-in-law, turning what could have been a forgotten side character into one of the highlights of the film, thanks to some wry one-liners delivered with second-perfect comic timing.

It’s refreshing to see a comedy about romance in middle age – it’s rare in a society seemingly obsessed with youth. This affords it opportunities to deliver not only jokes about getting older but a chance to show that you don’t have to lose it in your advancing years.

As promising as the set up is, it’s not all plain sailing. Whilst Streep and Baldwin seem like a natural couple, she has almost no chemistry with Steve Martin, who seems rather out of place. It’s probably the best movie he’s been in for a long time though; he’s been almost anti-funny for several years now.

It also features Jane’s irritating, screeching harpy friends who seem invaluable at dispensing advice in the early parts of the film, only to completely vanish with no explanation by its conclusion.
And while there are a couple of extremely funny gags – most actually coming from Kransinki but also a couple of real surprises in which Meryl Streep utters words that you’d never thought you’d hear – for every genuine chuckle, there are three attempts which will do absolutely nothing to tickle your funny bone.

Watching the cast get stoned might provide a bit of a titter but it’s actually more embarrassing than amusing – just because the cast is giggling at everything, doesn’t mean we will. There’s also a cringe worthy scene involving a webcam which seems like another attempt to be self-consciously modern.

It’s also far too long, dragging its feet with scenes that ultimately lead nowhere and this flabby direction makes it feel stodgy and leaden, something which stops comedy dead in its tracks.
And for a film which purports to be about complicated relationships, this premise is completely undermined by a cop-out Hollywood ending which reveals that actually, it was all very simple all along.

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