Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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It's Complicated

Film #243

THE PLOT

When attending their son’s college graduation, a couple reignite the spark in their relationship…but the complicated fact is they’re divorced and he’s remarried.

Year 1, Day 245

BEFORE: Another goal I have for this spring break is to catch up again in the marathon and return to par, or maybe ever surpass it, by having a few double-feature days. Today will be the first starting with It’s Complicated. Originally scheduled for the romance chain a few weeks ago, this seems like it will fit in nicely with the themes of When Harry Met Sally… and No Strings Attached.

AFTER: It’s Complicated is like a great house guest who overstays their welcome. They can be entertaining and eye-opening, but they just drone on for far too long and, sometimes, with topics that everyone can’t appreciate.

On the plus side, there is an incredible ensemble cast ranging from the always great Meryl Streep, to Alec Baldwin (last seen in The Aviator), Steve Martin, and John Krasinski. Even Jane (Streep) and Jake Adler’s (Baldwin) children - all college aged or older - who didn’t have large speaking roles, still added to the feeling and atmosphere of the film. The acting made these characters feel like a family, albeit on that suffers from a divorce. The interactions between the adults and the kids just seemed natural and added a sense of realism to the film that helped to sell the story. Jane is the caretaker, always concerned about her children and puts them before herself, whereas Jake is the prototypical unsatisfied man who feels he needs to cheat to be happy. Jane is a character you’ll love and care what happens to her while Jake is a character you’ll love to hate. Even when he tries, and in some ways does, to change his ways at the end of the film, there is no way he was leaving as a good guy and this is exactly what I think the filmmakers were going for. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite character, Adam (Steve Martin), who is the kind sweetheart that is very cautious and hesitant. While he too isn’t seen that often, Adam plays quite a large role and in some ways makes the film possible, for without his character, the conflict between Jane and Jake wouldn’t be as meaningful.

From what I can see, this film has to main flaws: length and relatability. The first one, length, I think applies to all who will watch the film. The film is just unnecessarily long for the story the filmmakers are trying to tell. Yes, it’s important to be able to set up the scene and develop these characters and their relationships so we can care about them, but for It’s Complicated it would be much more effective to tell just enough; get in and get out. At two hours, the film overstays it’s welcome and goes from an enjoyable genre film to a slightly boring, “Why am I watching this romantic comedy over another,” type film? The other flaw, relatability, is probably more of a subjective criticism than objective. I, thankfully, have two happily married parents and haven’t had to live through a divorce. I also haven’t been married or have had kids yet. So when I say this film misses the mark a bit, know that it could be due to my perspective. However, I did notice some things that struck me as odd such as the kids’ blasé attitude to the divorce (this changes a bit at the end) and the nonchalantness of Jane and Jake towards the whole thing. Coming from the outside, I was shocked that the kids and the adults weren’t more concerned or apprehensive about the events that were taking place.

For the most part, It’s Complicated delivers a humorous and entertaining time. Terrific acting helps bring the Adler’s to life and create character to connect with, whether positively or negatively. At the same time, I can’t help but feel this film would have been better with a more concise story and one that was more concerned with the effects at play. Still, not a bad choice if you’re looking for a film to watch. The scene in the hotel lobby will be sure to make you laugh.

RATING: 4 out of 5