Friday, December 25, 2009

It's Complicated

Not everything released around Christmas is Oscar-worthy. Now, It's Complicated certainly has some talent. Meryl Streep collects awards like I do comics, and Alec Baldwin (as I have often said before) just reading a phone book can be funnier than almost everyone else on the planet.

This new rom-com from writer/director Nancy Meyers (The Holiday - which I liked, What Women Want - which I didn't) is exactly what you'd expect going in. Thankfully there's enough humor that guys won't have to struggle too much when they're dragged by their better halves to see this over the holiday weekend.

Love the second time around is a complicated business, or so the film tells us. Divorced for ten years, emotions resurface for Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) while attending their son's (Hunter Parrish) college graduation.

Also thrown into the mix are the couple's son-in-law (John Krasinski) who catches the pair on a rendezvous, Lake Bell as Jake's demanding new trophy wife, Steve Martin as a possible new romantic interest for Jane, and a group of Jane's friends (Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place, Alexandra Wentworth) to cheer on her new affair.

The cast is solid but doesn't breakout from the thinly-written characters on the page. Streep carries the film through a mix of enjoyment and guilt over her new affair. Baldwin does the charming slimy routine he's had down for years. Martin is so constrained and understated through most of the film that you wonder why someone of his comedic talent was even chosen for the role. Krasinski plays shocked fairly well, and Parrish, Caitlin Fitzgerald, and Zoe Kazan all have a couple of nice moments and the pair's children.

Some of the humor works well, but at other times Meyers falls back on some much overused clich├ęs such as characters making bad choices in the wrong place at exactly the right time. There's even on scene where Martin and Streep showing up to a family party high on pot. You can guess what happens next.

And, if I have any real complaint about the film it's just that - you know what will happen next. As complicated as the film wants to be, there's no suspense about where events are heading or how it will end.

It's Complicated isn't a bad film. It's just predictable. Too predictable. And although the stars shine for moments, they are too often they are buried by the burden of the script they've been forced to bear.

There are certainly stronger films to see, but if you go you can expect to have a few laughs before you leave the theater and never think back on the film again. I guess it's not that complicated after all.

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