In Theaters: It's Complicated

Movieline Score:

I think a lot of people -- particularly the older women it was designed for -- would be insulted by It's Complicated, the latest cashmere and calla lily-scented effusion to waft from the mind of Nancy Meyers, if the director took her DKNY boot off their jugulars long enough for it to occur to them. A big part of Meyers's appeal is her obsessively upscale aesthetic, and the pull she creates toward a cozy, kooky, family-based world of privileged comfort, beauty and affluence is formidable: she wants you to give in, you want to give in -- where's the harm? Well, it's in her blithely loathsome characters, to begin with, but also in her blinkered notion of escapist cinema: not everyone is willing to relax into Meyers's Sonoma-scapes of domestic abundance the way, say, Depression-era moviegoers flocked to see Carole Lombard cracking wise in feathers and furs; the element of fantasy and aspiration is a harder sell in a culture where class striations have perhaps never been quite so raw. Personally, despite my best efforts to settle in and surrender to the "softness" Meyers seems so hell-bent on, the crudeness of the filmmaking and fatuous dedication to cliché kept jerking me back into my itchy street clothes and worn out shoes. Quel dommage pour moi!

A "personal" filmmaker the way Martha Stewart is a "homemaker," Meyers is now famous for pulling both kitchen tiles and divorce scars from her own life and putting them on screen. In It's Complicated, we have a 50-something Santa Barbara woman named Jane (Meryl Streep) who owns her own bakery, has three children, and has been divorced for 10 years from her husband Jake (Alec Baldwin), who left Jane for a young woman named Agness (Lake Bell, who gets exactly one shot, late in the film, that suggests her character's veins might flow with something besides venom). The day before their son's graduation in New York, Jane and Jake have a drunken round of oopsy sex; a sloppy affair, no actual hard (or difficult) feelings, and a whole lot of body-focused laugh cues ensue.

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  • Few people complained when "Sex and the City" threw red meat at its audience - early scenes involving the insanely big home Big was about to buy for Carrie B, for example.
    I'll swallow some of Meyers' tics -- the ridiculously beautiful kitchen that simply must be remade -- as long as the laughs are real and the characters are, too. I think this one scores on both counts.
    And why does Meyers get slack for creating stories based on her own life? Woody Allen has been doing that for decades and no one seems to mind - except when it gets icky with his old man/young girlfriend plots.

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