Friday, December 25, 2009

Movie with Abe: It’s Complicated

It’s Complicated
Directed by Nancy Meyers
Released December 25, 2009

There comes a point when the real-life personalities and public perceptions of actors start to influence the roles they have in films. In some cases, films play perfectly into that star image, where the actors might as well just be playing themselves into of bothering to portray characters. “It’s Complicated” is just the film for that. Meryl Streep is a beloved and respected actress who has led a successful career and who delights in making people laugh and cry. Alec Baldwin is an experienced actor with a reputation for being somewhat unruly, and Steve Martin is a veteran comedian who hasn’t done very much lately and who people probably still remember fondly. Throwing the three of them together is a sterling recipe for an old-fashioned entertaining romantic comedy.

There’s little seriousness in “It’s Complicated,” since, while things may be complicated, they’re certainly not somber. It’s refreshing to know that films that aren’t obsessed with body humor (though still use it in a far more muted manner) can still be effective and even hilarious. The maturity of the performers doesn’t make the film dense in any sense, and it’s their ability to have good, clean fun that makes it so enjoyable. Don’t be too disappointed, however, because there’s still plenty of edgy material, especially from the animated Baldwin, and the three performers are all having a spectacular time in this fabulously enthralling film.

It’s delightful to see Streep let loose, since she so rarely does so. She’s stunning in films like “Julie & Julia” and “Doubt” where she really burrows herself into her characters, and it’s nice to see her relax. It turns out that, stripped of a sharply defined role, the real Streep is pretty likeable. Baldwin isn’t quite as ruthless and ridiculous as he is week-to-week on “30 Rock,” but he milks his role as much as he can and has a great time doing it. It’s fantastic to see Martin in a good movie again, this time not playing a wild and crazy guy but instead a very nice and endearing architect vying kindly for the heart of Streep’s chef while she engages in a not-quite-extramarital affair with her ex-husband, played by Baldwin. The standout of the supporting cast is John Krasinski, who is considerably less prominently featured than he is on “The Office” but who manages to make the most out of minor moments and transform them into hilarious gut-busting scenes.

“It’s Complicated” is unarguably a bit flighty and less concerned with coherently wrapping up its story arc than remaining entertaining throughout and charming its audience with the distinguished appeal of its over-fifty stars. It’s not overly problematic since the jokes are still funny and it’s packed full of more than enough laughs to sustain its two-hour runtime. The chemistry of all the performers is what really makes it work. This formula really isn’t terribly complicated, but it’s safe and at the same time ready to push the envelope when the need arises. In short, it’s just plain fun.


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