Friday, June 4, 2010

Pretty Simple Really

A movie came out last Christmas that I really wanted to see but never quite found the time for was It's Complicated, the romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. After watching it today on DVD, I have come to the conclusion that the movie's director, Nancy Meyers, is one of the most amazing filmmakers in the history of the craft. Somehow, she managed to get three major talents to star in a movie that, if I called it mediocre, I'd be paying it a compliment. Also, she somehow managed to get three famous actors who have proven their comedic acting abilities many times over the years and managed to get them to avoid being funny for almost two hours.

I really wonder how this movie looked in script form. Maybe if you're reading it from the page, it's hilarious and it's only after you read it aloud that it sounds boring. I bet no one wanted to admit that such a funny script sounded horrible when they all got together for their first read-through. They probably all thought it was just them.

Baldwin and Streep play Jake and Jane, a California couple who divorced ten years earlier who come together for their son's college graduation in New York. Jake brings his much younger wife (Lake Bell) and Jane brings along her significant other which is no one. They meet up in the hotel bar where they drink, reminisce, drink and then drink some more before ending up back in her room for sex. I want to point otu that what I just described took about 20 minutes of screen time and I didn't laugh once save for a minor chuckle when, after sex, Jake puts his hand on Jane's vagina and says, "Home sweet home."

They go home to California where Jake wants to continue their affair and manages to talk Jane into it. While this is going on, Jane meets Adam (Steve Martin), an architect who's working on her house. They seem to like each other but the timing is inconvenient as Jane has just started an affair with her ex. Meanwhile, Jake's wife is pressuring him to get her pregnant, something Jake, at age 58, really doesn't want to do. About 40 minutes of screen time have elapsed by now and I can count the number of laughs on one hand.

The only scene that really comes to mind as stand-out hilarious was when Jane and Adam smoke a joint together. If you've ever tried to conceal the fact you were stoned or known someone who has, you'll recognize Steve Martin's pitch perfect facial expressions as he tries desperately to keep from breaking down and giggling for no reason. This took up about 12 minutes of screen time and then everything went back to being boring.

This movie wasn't at all complicated. It is plainly and simply boring. The actors try but there's only so much that even this combination of people who have at least been nominated for Oscars. One of them has even won the award twice. In the end, you have to give funny actors funny stuff to do and not think that other Meryl Streep movies like Sophie's Choice and Silkwood had more laughs than this so-called comedy. Actually, now that I think about, Silkwood, a serious drama about the nuclear power industry, probably did have more laughs and that's just sad.


Christopher said...

"...once save for a minor chuckle when, after sex, Jake puts his hand on Jane's vagina and says, "Home sweet home."

On "paper", this made me laugh.

Michael Clear said...

That was a funny line. There just weren't enough lines like that.