Last night, PJ and I finally watched It’s Complicated from Netflix. We both love Meryl Streep, so we should have been anxious to see it, but we’d heard so many mixed to bad reviews of the movie that we weren’t sure we’d enjoy it. Streep plays a Martha Stewart-type named Jane who becomes involved in an affair with her ex-husband, Jake, played by Alec Baldwin, who married “the other, much younger woman” after his divorce Jane 10 years ago. Comic mayhem ensues.

Here’s the trailer:

Contrary to some of the advance buzz, PJ and I both really enjoyed this movie. One of the criticisms we heard (from a friend) was that Jane’s life is too perfect. In particular, she lives in the perfect house and has the perfect job as a chief who owns her own bakery. While it’s true that Jane lives a life a luxury, I don’t see why this would be a problem. After all, movies are often an escapist art. And some people do actually live the life that Jane has.

Second, we heard that Jane laughs too much, which is also rather silly. She does laugh a lot, but in scenes in which it totally makes sense. As the trailer suggests, she laughs while she drinking with her girlfriends and she laughs while high with her architect/boyfriend. So, under the influence of alcohol and/or pot, she laughs a lot. Seems rather easy to believe to me.

We liked this film because it’s funny. And since it’s a comedy that’s an important consideration. Streep is comically believable as a woman torn between the past and the present. Her Jane is happy with her life and delighted to suddenly find that two men desire her. It’s as if she woke up one more and found out that she was suddenly sexy. I particularly liked that Streep’s character looks her age. She has the body and the face of an older woman. A sexy, older woman, but an older woman nevertheless.

Alec Baldwin is also very good as Jake. We can see why she’s tempted to take him back. And he’s believable as the somewhat manipulative guy who won’t make a choice between the two women he’s involved with. But he’s not just the little boy torn between two toys. His point of view and disappointments with his current marriage are also represented.

In fact, the depiction of his marriage is one of the weaknesses of the film, which feels compelled to make his wife, Agness, played by Lake Bell, completely unlikable. The only question is how he ever wanted to be with her in the first place. She’s all shrew and her child with another man is almost nothing but a brat. Agness and her son each get one moment in the film in which we feel sorry for her and that he’s a sweet kid after all, but each only gets the one moment late in the film. It’s Complicated would have been much more complicated if Agness had been someone we could like, making Jake’s choices all the more problematic.

I especially thought the scenes depicting the beginning of Jane’s affair with Jake were well done. It starts when the two of them have a drink together at a hotel bar and then have dinner. As they become more intoxicated, they rekindle the spark they had lost several years before. Once they start, Jane doesn’t know what to do. These moments are completely believable as is Jake’s constant manipulation of Jane back into bed.

John Krasinski is also well used in this movie. In one series of scenes, he becomes aware of the affair but also tries to hide it from his fiance, Jane’s and Jake’s daughter, and her siblings. His comic timing is great in these scenes. He uses all of his comic charm to great effect.

In sum, PJ and I both really enjoyed It’s Complicated. It’s a fun screwball comedy about and for grown-ups. I recommend it.

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