After I saw “It’s Complicated,” I pondered one of the greatest questions of all: what makes a solid comedy? The answer is complicated. Though it does contain a few good gags, “It’s Complicated” doesn’t totally answer the question.
I hope this opening doesn’t sound too harsh, because in the end, “It’s Complicated” is a decent comedy, but not a great one.
“It’s Complicated” is what can be described as nothing more, and nothing less, than a typical romantic comedy. The film centers around the divorced couple of Jake (Alec Baldwin) and Jane (Meryl Streep). Since the divorce ten years earlier, Jake has remarried the much younger Agness (Lake Bell) while Jane remains single. After reuniting at their son’s (Hunter Parrish) college graduation, the two inadvertently rekindle their love and embark on a long, troublesome affair.
It’s also worth noting that Steve Martin is in it as Jane’s love interest. It’s important to note this as the actors are truly what make the story work. The actors that make the story work are the trio of Baldwin, Streep, and Martin.
As usual, it’s a pleasure to watch Baldwin’s relaxed intensity. His sternness always seems to make for the best humor. He shows this skill most on “30 Rock,” and it truly carries over here.
Streep, meanwhile, is great as usual. Here she again proves that she is one of those rare actresses who can conquer any genre. It’s amazing to think she can be in something as serious as “The Deer Hunter” and something as silly as “It’s Complicated.” Streep even shows off the acting skills that a great comedian would have. These skills are visible in her body language and line delivery.
At times, the chemistry between Baldwin and Streep is almost magical. When Jake talks to Jane as she soaks in the tub, the two seem so believable as a married couple. It was a rare scene in the film that could’ve kept going and I wouldn’t have minded.
While Baldwin and Streep rarely seem to go wrong, this is probably the best performance Martin has given in years. He proves to audiences why he was once hailed as one of the greatest comedians out there. All he has to do is roll his eyes a certain way and you’re already laughing.
While this trio of actors essentially is the movie, they don’t totally steal the show. John Krasinski (“The Office”) proves himself to be an amazingly promising comedic talent.
I wish I could talk about how great the actors of “It’s Complicated” are for the rest of this post. However, I can’t ignore the film’s weak points. Its main weakness is its writing. While the film certainly has its funny moments, I can’t pinpoint one hilarious line that I could repeat for weeks to come. Also, the film doesn’t become funny until some way in and there are many long, humorous stretches. A great comedy should be consistently funny throughout. And while the film is only 118 minutes long, it feels much longer than that.
It also goes without saying that the story of “It’s Complicated” is something of a cliche and many parts of the plot line are very predictable. Then again, this is likely what the average viewer was expecting when they came into this movie: an entertaining, predictable romantic comedy. But some comedies can be good by being typical; some can be even better when they try to be smart and original. Take this year’s “The Hangover” and “Adventureland” for example.
Overall, “It’s Complicated” is funny and entertaining at times, but it relies too much on its acting, and too little on its writing. While great acting helps, the best comedies are bolstered by writers, not actors.
Note: While I normally try to keep my hatred toward the MPAA out of my reviews I thought it was important to mention here. “It’s Complicated” is rated R. There is no graphic sexuality, violence, or even explicit language. The only thing that got it an R was a very funny scene involving marijuana. Believe me, an intelligent 13-year-old could handle this.