What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that his mature romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin is age-appropriate for older teens and up, though adults are most likely to appreciate it. Although the sexuality isn't graphic, the movie's main themes concern infidellity, sex for the over-50 set, and dealing with grown-up children -- none of which is meant for younger kids. There's some swearing ("s--t" is the strongest of it), a good bit of social drinking (the main characters have their first adulterous night together after getting completely sloshed), and a couple of humorous scenes in which a marijuana joint is shared by three adult characters. Teens could get the message from the movie that being intoxicated lowers inhibitions (which is true) and since no negative consequences are shown, parents should talk to their kids about it. And, as in every other Nancy Meyers movie, everyone lives a completely pampered, wealthy lifestyle, this time in Santa Barbara. We should all be so lucky.
What's the story?
For a divorcee in her late 50s, Jane Adler (Meryl Streep) lives a rather enviable life -- she owns a gourmet bakery and lives in an amazing house in Santa Barbara. Meanwhile, her ex-husband, Jake (Alec Baldwin), is a rich lawyer married to a much younger wife (Lake Bell) who wants a baby. When Jane and Jake meet up for their son's college graduation in New York, they have an alcohol-fueled one-night-stand. Jake then decides he wants to continue his affair with Jane, who finds herself in the improbable position of being "the other woman" to the woman who was once her husband's mistress. As Jane and Jake's affair continues, Jane slowly becomes attracted to her attentive, earnest architect Adam (Steve Martin), who's overseeing her home's extensive renovations. What's an attractive 50-something woman to do -- give her ex a second shot at commitment, or plunge into a new relationship with a sweet new beau?
Is it any good?
Director Nancy Meyers is a seasoned pro at depicting a luxurious, upper-class world in which everyone has a kitchen larger than most studio apartments and a home that looks straight out of a magazine. Who better to inhabit this world than the world's greatest living actress and two gifted comic actors? It seems like the formula for success, and, for the most part, it works. Streep is adorable (as are her best friends, played by Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place, and Alexandra Wentworth) as a woman so sex deprived that she briefly considers whether her friend is right about a woman's "parts" closing up from disuse. Baldwin is almost too perfectly cast as the cocky ex who'd rather bury himself in the arms of his lovely former bride than go home to his shrewish-but-buxom younger wife. And Martin is much mellower than you'd expect, except in a hilarious scene in which Adam and Jane are high on marijuana.
Unfortunately, Meyers doesn't really have much to say in IT'S COMPLICATED. There's nothing all that memorable, despite the stellar cast. Some of the best parts of the movie, in fact, are the Adlers' three grown kids (played by Zoe Kazan, Hunter Parrish, and Caitlin Fitzgerald), all of whom are genuinely believable as siblings who would curl up in bed together after finding out that their parents had slept together but weren't yet back together. John Krasinski is also a scene-stealer as the soon-to-be son-in-law who first discovers Jake and Jane's dirty little secret. For a frothy romantic comedy starring actors over 60 (Baldwin is the youngest at 51), It's Complicated is like the chocolate croissants that feature prominently in the movie -- warm and sweet, but ultimately not that filling.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the movie's message about how divorce affects children, even grown-up ones. What's the impact of Jane and Jake's affair?
The movie was rated R because of the pot-smoking scene. What conversation do you need to have with your teens about the effects of drinking and drugs on inhibitions?
This is one of the few movies that explores romance between adults in their 50s. How is Jane and Jake's "mature" romance different than romantic comedies starring younger actors?