Complications arise in It’s Complicated, but no one’s going to need a map to navigate the glossy contours of Nancy Meyers’ latest made-to-measure romcom.
Light laughs. Low-level emotional tension. Lashings of food-and-property porn. It’s… calculated.
It’s also the beneficiary of reduced expectations, off the back of a toe-curling trailer and Meyers’ last effort, winter washout The Holiday. Fears seem to be realised in early scenes of characters laughing uproariously at their own jokes. But the writer/director holds a steady, pleasantly MOR course, reclaiming the relative respectability of Something’s Gotta Give – as well as its theme of oldies in love.
Divorced for a decade, ex-husband and wife Jake and Jane (Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep) plunge impulsively into an affair while in New York for their son’s graduation. Couple of complications (told you): Jake has a new, younger wife (Lake Bell) and Jane is getting friendly with architect Adam (Steve Martin). Which silver fox will Streep settle down with?
For all the formulaics, Meyers manages to keep us guessing right up to the fade-out. Shame though, that when she twists the dial to bittersweet, it doesn’t bring any sting. Or that Jake’s missus is a cardboard martinet. Or that the film intermittently falls back on lazy pratfalls, stoner schtick and a webcam gag worthy of an American Pie sequel. Shouldn’t it be more complicated than this?
Still, the quality’s in the casting. Martin flaunts his sensitive side; John Krasinski slyly pinches scenes as the future son-in-law who discovers the affair; but the film belongs to its leads. Both gamely play up their physical flaws (Streep’s drooping eyelids, Baldwin’s fat belly) while sharing a tingly, tickly chemistry.
Neither role’s a life-changer. Streep is Streep (luminous, effortless) and Baldwin is Baldwin (lusty, charming). Two pros being pros. And they delight. It’s simple, really.