Fairytales, as ol' Francis Albert once crooned, can come true if you're young at heart. In Nancy Meyers latest "Hey, oldies have urges too" romantic comedy, such youthful spirit is clearly in evidence. However, it's less a fairytale, more a stressful, and slightly bizarre, love triangle.
At the tip of said triangle is Jane (Streep). She's a successful business woman with a thriving bakery. She's raised three decent, intelligent kids. In fact, the only hiccup in recent years was husband Jack (Baldwin) trading her in for a younger model but even that's water under the bridge now. Life is pretty good. It is, however, about to get complicated. But hey, you probably guessed that.
Arriving in New York for her son’s graduation, Jane is left to her own devices while the rest of her brood plus one fiance (Krasinski, in a charming comic turn) go off to party. She’s not the only one to be there alone: Jake is also dining solo. A drink leads to dinner and more drinks and dancing. And more drinks. And yet more drinks. Several inhibition-removing bottles later, they end up in bed together.
And the sex is good. There’s history between them, they know each other well, they know the things that the other likes. Age and time apart has also made them more relaxed. So, yeah, it's good. Despite Jane's better nature, so begins a rather strange affair that leaves Jane as her ex’s mistress.
Not complicated enough? Of course it's not. While she's enjoying things with Jake, Jane is always aware that it's probably not going to last and so finds herself drawn to Adam (Steve Martin), the architect working on her property extension.
Meyers, who made What Women Want and Something’s Gotta Give, obviously knows her way around the grey-haired rom com subgenre and It’s Complicated falls into a similar warm and easy going vein. The disappointment is she still hasn't learned when and where to edit, leaving this film as overlong and underdeveloped as its predecessors.
The film therefore lives and dies with the quality of the leads... so no problem there then. Martin gets least to do but, given the distracting oddness of his appearance (ageing badly? plastic surgery? bunches too tight?) that’s probably just as well. It’s really left to Baldwin and Streep to carry matters and carry them they do. Streep is a joy and, after years of deeply committed performances and a variety of intensely studied accents, it’s so gratifying, and infectious, to see her simply having fun on screen.
Even better though is Baldwin. He may not be the slender leading man he once was but that 30 Rock rebirth has left him in the best shape of his career. He’s a gifted comic actor, a charming rogue, and this role showcases those talents perfectly. With Baldwin on screen, It’s Complicated regularly hits five star comedy heights. Without him, the film's flaws are less readily overlooked. Still, even with Meyers unable to avoid some horribly mawkish moments, the chemistry of Streep and Baldwin makes this is a frequently very funny and enjoyable diversion.
SECOND OPINION | Lizzie Husher *** Not what most would describe as especially complicated, this romantic comedy is however rather sweet, and perfectly enjoyable. Of course, the film’s charm is aided in no small part by the fact that the cast comprises a trio of Hollywood veterans, but the formula is also a tried and tested one; aspects of the plot are remarkably similar to Meyers’ previous oldie-romance success Something’s Gotta Give, even down to the embarrassing bottom exposures. Also, like its predecessor, this film depicts the more experienced mother-figure winning out over the washboard-stomached thirty-something; an audience pleasing aspect if arguably unrealistic in this instance. There are a few real laugh-out-loud moments here, with Baldwin contributing most, while Streep, as always, does both strong and vulnerable with equal command. However, you may find yourself cringing a little more than is intended at the regular displays of mature flesh; as attractive as Streep and Baldwin are, it is hard not to feel a little embarrassment for the stars who probably thought their nudity-fee negotiation days were over.
Depending on your mood when you enter the cinema, the beautiful Californian scenery and glossy magazine-perfect domestic sets could be thought of as an aesthetic bonus, or just another reason not to feel terribly sympathetic with these moneyed characters’ romantic plights. Although also a little too cute at times (note the three painfully perfect golden-haired children) the film is fairly certain to satisfy its main demographic, and is a vast improvement on Meyers’ patronizing previous rom-romp The Holiday. Perhaps the film’s title should instead be It’s Comforting, as this example’s probable box office success will prove; "never too old" tales will always be welcome with the casual cinema-goer.