December 25, 2009

USA: 'Complicated' is a romcom for mature audiences

. PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / Movies / December 25, 2009 REVIEW By Barbara Vancheri, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin reconnect with the help of alcohol in "It's Complicated". Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon "Women of a certain age -- and we, er, they know who they are -- often feel disenfranchised at the movie theater. True, "Julie & Julia" was tailor-made for them but many don't want to see comic books come to life or raunchy comedies or sci-fi epics about blue-skinned humanoids. Or they do but also crave characters who look and sound like them or how they wished they looked and sounded, and writer-director Nancy Meyers knows how to deliver. She casts women such as Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton, plops them into fantasy lives and homes made for HGTV, and gives them suitors played by the likes of Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Jude Law, Jack Nicholson and Mel Gibson. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 'It's Complicated' 3 stars = Good •Starring: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin. •Rating: R for some drug content and sexuality. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- She's done it again with "It's Complicated," an R-rated romcom for women (especially the divorced ones) and their book club members or friends who swap tales about over merlot. Meyers has constructed a love triangle and it has nothing to do with vampires, werewolves and brooding teen girls. Instead, it's about Jane (Meryl Streep), a Santa Barbara mother of three who owns a thriving bakery/restaurant; her ex-husband, a 58-year-old lawyer named Jake (Alec Baldwin), wed to a much younger woman; and Adam (Steve Martin), a shy architect drawing up plans to remodel Jane's kitchen. When Jane and Jake both go to New York for their son's college graduation, they end up in the same hotel bar and -- after oodles of booze -- bed. They start an affair which turns Jane into the "other woman," much to her delight and consternation. She is trying to figure out what or who she wants, even as Adam shows a romantic interest in her, further complicating a complicated situation. Just like George Clooney, her co-star in "Fantastic Mr. Fox," Streep is having a phenomenal year. This is her third movie of 2009 and she is its luminous center, aided by good sport Baldwin as a persuasive lawyer who seems to miss Jane as much as her cooking and Martin as a man who normally is not the life of the party. Lake Bell portrays Jake's second wife while Caitlin Fitzgerald, Zoe Kazan and Hunter Parrish are Jane and Jake's children. John Krasinski from "The Office" delivers a nice turn as a future son-in-law. Meyers seems to know that, like high school students who want to watch college-age characters, women want a dream life on screen. These pals tellingly don't discuss money, weight or aging relatives and if Jane's house weren't already straight from a shelter magazine, just wait until you get a load of her garden. "It's Complicated" is a revenge fantasy for any woman dumped for a younger model but it also addresses the fog and family dynamics of divorce. One-time couples will keep bumping into each other at parties and graduations, and their children will have a divorce demarcation line in their memories. Although this may not go into the chick flick hall of fame, it is better and crisper than Meyers' 2006 picture "The Holiday" and allows Streep more dignity than the shrieking Keaton when caught without clothes in "Something's Gotta Give." In fact, she turns the tables this time around, in a bit that had a preview crowd howling. Maybe it's not that complicated when you know your target audience. [rc] Barbara Vancheri is Post-Gazette movie editor E-Mail: Copyright ©1997 - 2010 PG Publishing Co., Inc.