I like a good romantic comedy. For me, the essential ingredients are a warm, witty, and original script, nuanced or smartly off-the-wall performances, a fine balance between comedy and romance, crackling chemistry between the main players, and good, natural pacing. Some of my favourites in this genre are When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, The American President, and Love Actually. These films may not have every one of my recommended ingredients, but they have enough to make me want to watch them more than once.
I have already seen last year’s It’s Complicated three or four times and I still laugh and tear up in all the same scenes as if I were seeing the film for the first time. Needless to say, this movie fulfills every one of my rom-com requirements.
Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) have been divorced for ten years. He’s remarried, to a younger woman; she’s still single. His marriage is not going the way he had imagined it would; she’s a little lonely now that the last of their three children has moved out from Mom’s. He still has feelings for her; she’s just vulnerable—well, maybe she still cares for him a little as well.
On a trip to New York for their son’s graduation, the old chemistry kicks in and they end up in bed together. The incident precipitates an “affair,” which Jake sees as a prelude to their getting back together; Jane is not so sure but is clearly enjoying the romance.
The kids, when they discover what’s going on, are just freaked out.
Meanwhile, there are minor sparks between Jane and Adam (Steve Martin), the architect who is designing the new addition to her house. Jane is torn between Jake and Adam—it’s complicated!—but when Jake fails to show up for a romantic dinner, she sees the folly of this “ex-rated” affair and opts for the less exciting but more dependable Adam. Jake has not quite got the message yet, however. In a hilarious scene, he lays himself out nude on Jane’s bed discreetly shielding his privates with her open notebook computer, hoping to surprise her when she comes out of the bathroom. Unfortunately for all concerned, Jane and Adam have just been having a video chat, so the architect is the one who gets the surprise—in the form of Jake’s full set of plans—and he shuts down pronto.
In the end, Jane chooses the less complicated romantic path and poor Jake is left to pick up the pieces of his shattered dignity, which he begins to do with good-natured self-deprecation.
Nancy Meyers’s script is indeed warm, witty, and original. In spite of the complications and disappointments, Jane and Jake’s relationship is one of genuine affection and regard. The warmth of the family, including the parents’ great love for their children, is in fact a cornerstone of the story. The gentle and tentative Adam also inspires our affection.
It’s Complicated contains some genuinely funny scenes. While Jane is getting ready for a date with Adam—they are actually going to a party at Jake’s house—she finds a joint Jake has left behind and takes a couple of tokes. By the time Adam arrives, she is thoroughly stoned; then at the party both of them toke up. The dialogue and antics that ensue are priceless.
Much of the success of It’s Complicated, though, comes courtesy of the two leads. Meryl Streep, with her infinite range of gestures, facial expressions, looks, and conversational pauses, can still appear natural and absolutely right for every role she plays. Jane Adler is no exception. And Alec Baldwin pretty much steals this show. He is at once charmingly sophomoric, needy, cleverly manipulative, sexy—and of course, funny. The dynamic between the two of them ranges from tender to tense to romantic, and even “smokin’ hot.”
It’s Complicated is a delightful comedy and a sweet and tender romance.
It’s Complicated Poster @ Wikipedia
Recent Ross Lonergan Articles:
- The Film-School Student Who Never Graduates: A Profile of Ang Lee, Part Four
- The Film-School Student Who Never Graduates: A Profile of Ang Lee, Part Three
- The Film-School Student Who Never Graduates: A Profile of Ang Lee, Part Two
- The Film-School Student Who Never Graduates: A Profile of Ang Lee, Part One
- Bullying, Fear, And The Full Moon (Part Four)