It’s Complicated

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IT’S COMPLICATED, a slick, good-looking, professionally streamlined romantic comedy hit from 2009 complicates general overall appreciation. On the one hand it’s fairly funny and relationship-perceptive and on the other it whiffs a definite scent of safe-at-home-base, biz-insider smugness. Watchable ha-ha, for sure, but yet another in a long take-cuts line of rom-coms featuring characters forced to deal with their frustrated yearnings while buoyed up by successful careers, plush surroundings and tons of fun-money. Must be a drag.

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‘Jane’ (Meryl Streep) runs a chic bakery in Santa Barbara (ah, so we can relate from the get-go). Ex-husband ‘Jake’ (Alec Baldwin) is a successful lawyer (now we really care) with a foxy younger wife (Lake Bell).  A nice (and nicer) new guy in Jane’s orbit is ‘Adam’ (Steve Martin), an architect (what else?) who falls for Jane just as she and Jake rekindle beneath-the-sheets passion by having an affair. Factoring in are the couple’s grown children (Hunter Parish, Zoe Kazan, Caitlin Fitzgerald) and budding son–in-law (John Krasinksi), while Jane’s BGFs (Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place and Alexandra Wentworth) are giddy over their girl’s reignited sex life. Well, there’s always the bakery…in Santa Barbara…

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Written & directed by Nancy Meyers, an old hand at chick-flick comedies with cross-over appeal to snag more-refined cavemen, it’s blessed by the tack-sharp cast, who don’t miss a beat on the familiar-ground material. Their working-through-issues shtick is given a warm glow courtesy of cinematographer John Toll, who gets the most from the location work (in California) and nicely-matched interior sets (in New York). The prime real estate is Jane’s house, a 1920s Spanish ranch-style beauty perched in the Cal-comfy hills of Thousand Oaks.

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Done for $85,000,000, it drew middling reviews but the comforting stars and mostly good jokes pulled $219,100,000, putting it 27th for the year. That a simple, updated Doris & Rock-style comedy, without big set-pieces, should consume this much money to produce is—or should be— as sad a story as that of more late-middle-aged mewling from the deprived depths of the 5%, coming at us clods in the bleachers courtesy of our movie reps residing in the 1%.  120 minutes.

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