I can't remember the last time I saw four new movies at a theater in the space of two weeks -- usually I can count the movies I see in a theater in a year's time on one hand -- but that's exactly what I did this Christmas vacation. (It didn't hurt that one of my clients gave me some movie passes for Christmas!) I followed up seeing THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, UP IN THE AIR, and THE BLIND SIDE with going to see IT'S COMPLICATED late this afternoon. I found it thoroughly enjoyable, its "elegant escapism" just the ticket as we gear up to return to work and school tomorrow.
Long-divorced Jane (Meryl Streep), the owner of a Santa Barbara Bakery, is stunned to find herself embarking on an affair with her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) when they reconnect at their son's college graduation. Unfortunately there's a little problem...Jake is now married to Agness (Lake Bell). And once Jane is back home, an attractive new man enters her life in the form of Adam (Steve Martin), the architect remodeling her house.
Though the characters' behavior is sometimes far from admirable, I couldn't help having a good time watching this movie. The cast is attractive -- and the set design even more so! (One of the best scenes finds Streep and Martin making chocolate croissants in her closed bakery in the dead of night...I got hungry just watching it.) The film is often very funny, and one scene in particular, though it's not my usual kind of humor, found me laughing till the tears ran down my face, thanks to the steadily escalating situation and the perfect comedy timing of the three leads. The film ultimately arrives at the correct destination, but the fun is in getting there.
Streep, as always, is a thorough pleasure, and Steve Martin is touching in a low-key role as an appealing man afraid she's going to break his heart. I'm no Alec Baldwin fan but I have to say he was very good in this, and quite fearless about making a fool of himself for the sake of comedy.
John Krasinski is a charmer as Streep and Baldwin's future son-in-law. He nearly steals the movie with his reactions in one of the film's funniest sequences.
Rita Wilson (SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE) is always a pleasure to see on the screen; here she is one of Jane's gal pals who serve as a chorus reacting to the latest goings-on. Mary Kay Place and Alexandra Wentworth round out the group of Jane's friends.
Caitlin Fitzgerald, Zoe Kazan, and Hunter Parrish are appealing as Jane and Jake's children, although I had to question the depth of their reaction in a scene near the end of the movie. (They take to bed in their jammies to deal with surprising news?) Kazan, incidentally, is the granddaughter of Elia Kazan and the daughter of writer-director Robin Swicord (LITTLE WOMEN, THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB).
IT'S COMPLICATED runs 118 minutes. It's rated R for scenes depicting an affair and smoking pot; as with UP IN THE AIR, also rated R, I think I've actually found some recent PG-13 movies to contain more offensive material. The ratings system is a mystery to me at times.
The L.A. Times ran an interesting article on the film's locations.
A trailer is here.
I've liked other films by writer-director Nancy Meyers, including BABY BOOM (1987), SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE (2003), and THE HOLIDAY (2006). For the viewer who's in the mood for one of Meyers' love stories with beautiful settings, IT'S COMPLICATED more than fills the bill.