A quick and completely unscientific poll of divorced women in the immediate vicinity indicates that the premise of Nancy Meyers’ latest film — that women can’t resist sleeping with their ex-husbands — is more of a fantasy than the flying lizards in James Cameron’s Avatar. Even so, they (the divorced women, not the lizards) will probably enjoy It’s Complicated, which is funny even when it relies heavily on age-old, old-age gags. (Middle-aged people have sex! Middle-aged people smoke pot! Middle-aged people do things they shouldn’t!)
With It’s Complicated, Meyers, who wrote and directed the Jack Nicholson/Diane Keaton comedy Something’s Gotta Give, strikes another bold blow for midlife romance using some of the best comic weapons available: Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. They play long-divorced exes who rekindle the flame after a wildly drunken evening during their son’s college graduation weekend. Kids, this is what happens when you abandon the old folks to party among yourselves.
The waffling Jane (Streep) hasn’t planned the affair; she’s still single but more interested in the addition she’s planning for her house than dating. (For the record, the “house” is a mansion with an ocean view and requires an addition about as much as Buckingham Palace.) Cocky Jake (Baldwin, gutsy — and I do mean gutsy — in his willingness to bare his middle-aged belly) is remarried to a younger woman (Lake Bell) with one obnoxious kid and serious determination to have another.
Things get complicated, of course, as the carrying-on carries on. Neither Jane nor Jake wants their three almost-grown kids to find out, though a chance meeting clues in and completely panics their daughter’s fiance (John Krasinski of The Office). And Jane’s kind but emotionally fragile architect (Steve Martin) proves to be good company and maybe even date-able, if only she weren’t rejecting him to roll around in bed with the guy who dumped her for a younger model.
Naturally Streep and Baldwin are terrific, but good comedies also need strong supporting casts to flourish, and Martin and Krasinski add a nice boost to It’s Complicated. A couple of times Krasinski even comes close to stealing the show — from these heavyweights! — and Martin, whose recent career path has been spotty at best, really makes those pot jokes pay off. The film’s biggest laugh goes to Baldwin, though, and it’s one that will keep you chuckling after the movie has ended.
It’s Complicated is undeniably aimed at a female audience, so call it a chick flick if you must. But how can you argue with a film that allows you to have such a good time?
Cast: Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, John Krasinski, Lake Bell.
Director/screenwriter: Nancy Meyers.
Producers: Nancy Meyers, Scott Rudin.
A Universal release. Running time: 118 minutes. Some drug content, sexuality. Playing at area theaters.