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It's Complicated (2009)

Rating: 8/10

Going in to It’s Complicated, it’s hard to imagine anything could throw it off its funny course. You’ve got Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin, plus John Krasinski from “The Office.” Funny is to be had—and it is. Plus, it’s nice to see a genuinely humorous romantic comedy that isn’t all about people who are 10 or 15 years younger than I am; granted, they’re about 20 years OLDER than I am, but it’s a refreshing switch up to the genre nonetheless.

This is the tale of Jane (Streep), a successful divorced woman who has done quite well for herself since her decade-old divorce from Jake (Baldwin). See, back in the day, Jake cheated on Jane with the woman who would be his wife, and while this led to divorce from Jane, the two have reached an amicability for the sake of their children. Well, as luck would have it, Jake and Jane spend a lonely evening together in a bar after their son’s college graduation … which leads to a romp in a hotel room … which leads to a full-blown affair. Add in Jane’s budding romance with her architect Adam (Martin), a son-in-law (Krasinski) trying to keep the affair under wraps, and the whole idea that Jane has now become “the other woman” and you see where the title comes from.

Maybe the best thing about It’s Complicated is that there’s no “clever” angle (yes, (500) Days of Summer, I’m looking at you) and there’s never a sense of pandering to the audience. Laughs come naturally from actual funny situations, not from highly contrived events that reek of “movie.” Plain, old fashioned good acting, comedic talent, and intelligent humor that doesn’t go dark are a rare combination these days, so it’s like a respite in a storm to just sit and watch and laugh. At this point, there’s really no need to heap more praise on Streep, but as always, she’s terrific. Baldwin is actually the stand-out, though, with his unabashed “confidence”(?) even in the face of his paunchy gut and obvious husband failings. It’s also nice to se Krasinski away from “The Office”—though he’s hilarious as Jim, his movie roles have tended to pigeonhole him into the same type of comedy, and here he gets to change it up a bit and just be funny. Martin, in my one complaint, is given the role of the guy we know is good for Jane, but it’s a bit of a lackluster part, especially given what we know he can do with the funny. He’s got the role down, and comes off as a great guy, but in a movie full of comedians, he’s a little too dialed down for me. Overall, though, that’s just a tiny glitch in a well-made, smart romantic comedy for the older set that can be appreciated even by the whippersnappers.

It's Got: Perfect casting in Baldwin and Streep, actual smart humor, a whole new John Krasinski

It Needs: A little more of the funny Steve Martin, not to be rated R


Finally, a rom-com that isn’t about hot twentysomethings, wasn’t made by Judd Apatow or one of his followers, and doesn’t talk down to its audience.