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February 4, 2010 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

It’s Complicated


It should be noted that the title of this film, Nancy Meyers’ latest ‘romantic comedy’, is a misnomer. It’s Complicated is not, in fact, complicated. Not at all. It should also be noted that this is only the tip of the iceberg of lies that is It’s Complicated.

It’s not a ‘romantic comedy’, because that would imply romance and humour exist within the film’s running time; it does not ‘star’ Steve Martin, instead opting for the soulless husk of a man who once was Steve Martin; rather than being a film that ‘contains’ drug content, as the MPAA asserts, It’s Complicated is ‘drug content’—namely, an incredibly powerful and unwanted sedative. While there may be more accurate titles to describe this film than It’s Complicated, I’m pretty sure It’s Shit, It’s Boring or It’s A Trap aren’t really that easy to sell to a mass audience. It’s much easier to market the cinematic equivalent of a giant bear trap when it’s got an innocuous name like It’s Complicated.

It also helps when your death maze of a film is written and directed by the Muttley to Nora Ephron’s Dick Dastardly, Nancy Meyers. Her charmless, vapid pen is the source of this bland and obvious narrative, each piece of paper on which her script is written an innocent victim, possessing no mouth and yet desperately needing to scream. She sticks to an outrageously rigid, predictable formula, and everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow by the end as if the film were a present delivered directly from hell.

Our heroine is Nancy Meyers… sorry, I mean Jane Adler, a wildly successful screenwriter… wait, no, chef, with her own deal with the Dev… oh, shit, I mean patisserie, how do I keep doing this? Anyway, she’s divorced, and hasn’t had sex for god knows how long (the movie is very vague on this point, but thanks to the shrieking harpies she calls ‘friends’, we know it’s been a long time). That is, until she ends up having drunken sex with Jake, her ex-husband, an objectionable letch played by the lovable Alec Baldwin (he shows more patience with his fake stepson than he does with his real-life daughter, which clearly makes him lovable).

Meanwhile, her architect, the divorced Adam (played by Steve Martin), falls in love with her. This is bad, partly because it sets up the usual contrivances customary of these demonic celluloid rituals and partly because it means Steve Martin is made to not be funny, and after a decade of Pink Panther remakes and Bringing Down the House, Martin desperately needs to be funny again.

Meyers’ painfully predictable narrative is further marked by the most foul of characterisation. If there’s one thing in this world that is excruciating to watch, it’s middle-aged people trying to act like teenagers. Meyers seems oblivious to this, and so channels a social phenomenon both disturbing and pathetic, unleashing it upon the world in her trio of leads. It’s telling when the twenty-something children of the lead characters seem more mature and reasonable than them, and it’s not helped by Streep, who plays Adler like some kind of giddy, lovesick college freshman, surrounded by her gaggle of sorority-house harpies.

There may be some point Meyers is trying to make here, but I doubt it, and even so, it’s lost in the spectacle of Meryl Streep attempting to be anything more than embarrassing. In fact, Meyers is so stuck in the idea of making her middle-aged characters ‘cool’ and ‘down with the kids’ that the only times the film is funny (without the help of John Krasinski, whose omnipresence in this film is scary) is when she travels so far into her Twilight Zone of ribald 1980s teen comedies that she morphs into some horrific hybrid of John Belushi and Jami Gertz—the incredibly clichéd dope-smoking sequence and Baldwin’s hilarious nudity being those two times.

To say there are good things about It’s Complicated is to ignore the overwhelming awfulness on display. Alec Baldwin may be good value, and John Krasinski may be the man who stopped me from tipping into insanity time and time again while watching the film, but that doesn’t explain away the bloated monstrosity that this film is. It’s unfunny, it’s horrifically bogged down in cliché, it’s entirely too predictable, it’s nailed into the ground by an abysmal script—but the worst part of it is how long and self-important it is. It is 130 minutes long. It is 130 minutes long, and it says nothing. Against all odds, however, Meyers thinks that this nothing is important, nay, vital to your continued happiness in life. Nothing else explains this film taking 130 minutes. This is a boring film. This is a pretentious film. This is a bad film.

Really, it’s not that complicated.



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Comments (4)

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  1. Mikey says:

    I get what you say about the length. I saw this trailer at the movies and felt like I’d seen the entire movie. Luckily, though, I haven’t.

  2. MJO says:

    Yeah, I don’t care for Alec Baldwin. Predicting that this will screen on TV 2 some idle Tuesday night in 2012.

  3. Guy says:

    What a brutalizing review! Yeah this movie looks fuckin boring as

  4. Loren says:

    Nancy Meyers wants to appeal to the masses – that’s her game plan. She’s one of the most powerful female writer / directors in Hollywood and she wasn’t going to get that position making honourable obscure arthouse cinema. So yeah it’s gushy, everyone’s rich and successful etc but the box office returns were huge and not many women in Hollywood are cranking that much at the moment. At least know what you’re critiquing before you start your rant.

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