Andy Bockelman: ‘It’s Complicated’ features simple, agreeable story

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Andy Bockelman

Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press. Contact him at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

Find more columns by Bockelman here.

'It’s Complicated'

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

Length: 120 minutes

Starring: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.

You don’t hear the term “divorce with benefits” very often, but the romantic comedy “It’s Complicated” offers a lot of new ideas along with that.

Jane and Jake (Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin) are celebrating their 10th anniversary — of not being together. The once-married couple finally has gotten its bearings in the world of divorce.

She has turned her attention to her work, while he has wed the younger woman (Lake Bell) who broke up their relationship. All is well, or at least amicable, until during a sojourn to New York for their son’s (Hunter Parrish) college graduation, Jane and Jake wind up in the same bed. And although he feels right being back together, she is beset with doubts about suddenly being the other woman.

When she is wooed by another man (Steve Martin), she is ready to move on from the reunion with her ex, but Jake isn’t about to give up that easy.

Streep’s comic timing is as sharp as ever as restaurateuse and pastry-cook Jane, though her portrayal of Julia Child certainly will go down as the more memorable chef character on the actress’s résumé. Still, she captures the empty-nester’s bewilderment at being torn between the man who betrayed her and the new love in her life.

Baldwin is little more than OK as the man in question, who doesn’t seem to have any reservations about leaving his new wife for his old wife — ahem, ex-wife. Bell’s character’s baby fever and her hyperactive son (Emjay Anthony) may be the reason that philandering seems the easier route.

As far as Jane and Jake’s grown kids (Parrish, Zoe Kazan, Caitlin Fitzgerald) go, they are almost completely overlooked. John Krasinski is given more attention in lieu of them as eldest daughter Fitzgerald’s fiancé, who quickly picks up on his in-laws’ affair and is given the unenviable position of being a secret-keeper.

Martin’s presence is much more welcome as straight-shooter architect Adam, who’s also been burned before in the marriage department, adding to Jane’s attraction to him.

Writer/director Nancy Meyers’ depiction of marriage, divorce and everything in between during middle age is a very pretty portrait of a family who’s learned to cope with their given circumstances. And the attractiveness of this premise leaves a false sense of security.

The pleasantries are almost overkill, as the frustrations and wounded egos of divorce are pushed into the background. But they are there, even in a diminished capacity.

Anybody who has had a marriage fall apart or tried to revive a long dead connection can appreciate the difficulties faced by Jane and Jake, although it goes without saying that they make it look much, much easier than it could ever be in reality.

But you knew that already.

Contrary to its title, “It’s Complicated” is pretty straightforward and easygoing. And slightly sugarcoated though it may be, it’s a nice enough watch, mainly because of the star power involved, in addition to a story that is more mature than most of its kind.

Still, any movie that has a man in his 50s saying the expression, “OMG” with a straight face deserves to be knocked down a couple notches.

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