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Friday
Dec252009

It's Complicated

There's nothing worse than having to write a review for a movie you're indifferent on, one you neither liked nor disliked. It's Complicated is one of those movies. Though I tend to lean towards the side of a recommendation, there's nothing in this movie that will bowl you over, but it's fun enough while it lasts.

The great Meryl Streep plays Jane, a woman who has been divorced from her ex-husband, Jake, played by Alec Baldwin, for ten years. Although she has found herself to be lonely and rejected at times, she has always had the presence of her children to keep her company, but now they have all moved out and her youngest is about to graduate college in New York City, so she heads there to watch the proceedings. Jake is also present and has left his new wife (whom he cheated on Jane with) back home. That night, they meet at a bar and start to catch up on old times and in their increasingly drunken stupor, they end up having sex with each other, sparking an affair back home. Meanwhile, Jane's architect, Adam, played by Steve Martin, starts to fall for her and she gets involved with him too.

So the film goes back and forth between the emotions in the three characters, Jane confused and angry at herself for not committing to one man, Jake desperately wanting to win Jane back and Adam who finds himself smitten with Jane but is unaware of the affair she is having with Jake. This infidelity love triangle is written very well and takes some interesting turns, but it gets drawn out for far too long, nearly two hours. There are only so many sexual encounters between Jake and Jane that you need to show to get the point across. After that, it becomes monotonous.

The reason it is stretched to its breaking point is because each encounter features some zany comedic angle that works as a way to differentiate, and justify, each scene, so it's a good thing most are very funny. Baldwin is absolutely wonderful as the eccentric, lustful adulterer and provides more laughs in this film than everybody else combined. At first, it seemed like nobody else was even trying to help him out in his endeavor to make this movie something other than mediocre.

But then it flips and the weak elements of the movie start to pick up the slack. It's Complicated is a good example of why you should always finish a movie once you start it. You never know if an initially uninteresting flick is going to turn into a thoroughly fun one, which this does. I was miserable for the first 20 to 30 minutes. Very little of the jokes landed for me and I found myself annoyed by the constant pop culture references to Match.com and MTV's horrible show, "The Hills." It felt forced in a way that hoped to appeal to a younger audience and it didn't work, but halfway through the movie I could feel my interest growing. I started to laugh, I cared about the characters and the increased screen time of the up-to-that-point underused John Krasinski eventually won me over.

Still, there are flaws and the film's competition on Christmas day is nothing to scoff at. Going up against Sherlock Holmes and the wide release of the excellent George Clooney film, Up in the Air may prevent this one from finding an audience, but it's a perfect fit for the season. It's a light, fluffy, fun little movie that will work as a cheerful diversion for those who want to rest after the excitement from the holidays wears down.

It's Complicated receives 3/5

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