It's Complicated

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
It's Complicated Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Parents will dig this over-50 romcom, but kids won't.
  • R
  • 2009
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 15 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Although there are positive messages about families of divorce (Jane and Jake's three kids are very close to them) and the empowerment of single women in their 50s, there's also the sense that adultery between exes isn't all that serious, since they were once married. That's a pretty iffy message, even though it's handled comically.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jane is inspiring as a successful business owner who was able to start a new life after divorce. She's also a very caring and loving mother. Jake cares about his children, but he acts quite selfishly throughout the movie. The fact that the ex-spouses hook up isn't exactly top-notch role model behavior, but it's all played for romance and humor.


Drunken (and subsequently sober) adultery between exes is the movie's central plot point. There's no nudity, but you do see one character in her bra and panties, Meryl Streep in a chemise, and a lot of Alec Baldwin's skin (a strategically placed laptop blocks any X-rated parts). One sight gag alludes to the fact that Baldwin's penis is directly within view of a webcam that Steve Martin is watching from his own computer. There's also a lot of discussion about sex, extramarital affairs, older women's sex drives (and anatomy), and fertility issues.


Fairly mild for an R-rated movie. Words like "s--t," "holy s--t," "prick," "ass," "bitch," and "oh my God" are said on occasion but not frequently.


Several brands are featured, including Toyota Prius, Porsche, Jeep,, and Mac.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of social drinking by adults (mostly wine and cocktails) at dinners and parties. Jane and Jake get completely sloshed before their first hook up; later, Jane smokes a marijuana joint with Adam. None of these scenes have any negative consequences, and indeed, the scenes show how inhibitions are lowered as a result of being intoxicated.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 and 10-year-old Written bydavid.wallace June 5, 2011

Funny Middle Aged

Pretty wholesome rated R movie. For a comedy it doesn't have the happiest ending, but there are plenty of laughs along. I talked to some other parents who... Continue reading
Parent of a 11-year-old Written bymikeisawesome123 February 2, 2011

Not so funny

This was suppose to be a romantic comedy but it really wasn't as funny as I thought it would be. There was a lot of sexuality. Lots of sex scenes. They nev... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAlinaW. June 17, 2010

It's not rated R people!

First of all, this movie wasn't rated R. When we went to pick it up at the video store, the guy said it was 14A, and sure enough, when I checked the back o... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bydwiggit101 February 7, 2010

Shouldn't have been rated R

Well, I don't really know why this is rated R. It's really not that bad.There is, like, NO language at all. They don't show anyone having sex, bu... Continue reading

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?

It's Complicated is like the chocolate croissants that feature prominently in the movie -- warm and sweet, but ultimately not that filling. 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.

Talk to your kids 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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

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