Review in a hurry: Will a lady (Meryl Streep) with three perfect grown kids, a palatial house in Santa Barbara, a fondness for five-star hotels and a schedule loaded with seaside wine parties get together with her lawyer ex (Alec Baldwin)? Does anyone care?
The Bigger Picture: Meet Jane Adler (Streep), a middle-aged Barefoot Contessa catering type living in Santa Barbara. She likes to go to wine parties with her girlfriends to get together and giggle about vaginas, or cook things for her three adult kids in a vast culinary space featuring two ovens, marble-top surfaces and herbs fresh-picked from a home garden bursting with luscious, perfectly ripe tomatoes. Still, she is sad. She isn't having any sex, and she has commissioned a new wing to be built onto her house so she can have a "real kitchen."
One night Jane has sex with her ex (Baldwin), who, at this point, has married another woman. To director Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, Something's Gotta Give), this is a totally insane and wildly complicated scenario, and for the next hour and half Streep keeps tells us how insaaaaaaaane everything is.
If things really are insaaaaaaane, Meyers has apparently forgotten to show us exactly why; the perma-grins on Jane's three grown kids never really fade, the croissants at Jane's high-end boite continue to pop out golden brown, an architect played by Steve Martin is very pleasant and likes Jane very much, and the martini is nice and cold when Jane orders one during a trip to a five-star New York hotel. Jane and her ex just keep having sex, Jane keeps freaking out about that fact, and to Meyers, this is, apparently, a whole movie.
A wild, crazy, totally out-of-control freakfest.
Even Streep doesn't seem to know what to do with her character except laugh—the only person, living or celluloid, in the theater doing so. With nothing else to truly "complicate" the plot or characters, Meyers's cast seems as self-absorbed and out-of-touch as a bunch of wine snobs sitting at a quaint little beer brewery they discovered during a sojourn through Europe.
The only redeeming element in the flick is Baldwin, who practically leaps onto the screen, a sort of sexual badger slinging his horny, hairy girth around with gusto. He's perfectly capable in the role. But with nothing else to grab onto, Meyers has left us with a movie as flaky and overpriced as a $10 croissant.
The 180?a Second Opinion: The movie is, essentially, Baby Boomer decor porn. If you fit the Nancy Meyers demographic, that $10 croissant probably fits your budget just great.
It's Complicated isn't in there, but see what did make it into our Best of 2009: Movies gallery