(No longer in theaters)
Nancy Meyers, Scott Rudin
Dec 25, 2009
Nancy Meyers’s comedies make me feel like someone put itching powder down my shirt—but that’s partly, I admit, the result of envy. Her characters are absurdly affluent and never seem to think about money, and I get the feeling Meyers doesn’t, either, since she never uses their disconnect from the other 99.999 percent of the world satirically, the way Preston Sturges or Paul Mazursky did. It’s Complicated is the most accomplished but also the least self-aware of her films. On the surface, it’s about the mixed-up feelings of a long-divorced couple, Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin), when they get drunk and have smashing sex on the eve of their son’s college graduation—after which Jake begins to show up on her doorstep panting for nookie. A successful caterer and gourmet-market owner, Jane is, on one level, thrilled, since Jake had abandoned her for a slinky young woman. But suddenly she has another suitor: Adam (Steve Martin), a sweet, divorced architect designing an extension for her (already huge) house. What to do, what to do? Turns out It’s Complicated is not so complicated after all. It’s an older woman’s emasculating revenge fantasy. Meyers lingers on Jake’s girth, the bitchiness of his young wife, and his humiliating infertility, while Jane grows more radiant with each scene. Adam, meanwhile, is a dear. The nice thing about Martin is that he’s so smooth and white and shy that you can project whatever you like on him. Here he is mostly soulfully morose. (I get the feeling it’s his natural temperament.) Baldwin comes on like a rocket but plays the same scene over and over and finally runs out of invention.
It’s Complicated is a celebration of Streep—normally the queen of artifice—as a Natural Woman. And buoyed by her worshipful co-stars, she does look like she’s having a ball. It’s not that ghastly giddiness of Mamma Mia! but something deeper. I think this is the first time onscreen that Streep—famously insecure about her looks—has truly felt beautiful.