When an actor can hold his own with Meryl Streep (“Julie and Julia”), the greatest actress in movie history, you know he’s doing well.
Alec Baldwin (TV’s “30 Rock”) is terrific…as is Streep…in “It’s Complicated,” a romantic comedy about folks of a certain age.
Nancy Meyers, the writer/director known for movies like “Something’s Gotta Give” and “What Women Want,” is quite happy to play to an underserved demographic, women over forty. For the most part, she gives them exactly what they want.
Streep plays Jane, an affluent Santa Barbara divorcee who runs a bakery. When she flies to New York to attend her son’s college graduation, she has a bit too much to drink and has a one-nighter with her ex-husband Jake, a high-powered lawyer played by Baldwin.
Although they’ve been divorced for ten years, the duo finds that the old spark is still there and they begin a hot and heavy affair.
Trouble is, Jake is married to a much younger woman with a 5-year-old son. Plus, Jake and his trophy wife are trying to have a child together.
Unwittingly, Jane has turned into a person she has always despised: “The Other Woman.” But, as her friends tell her, “Oh well, you had him first.”
Many of the complications that arise revolve around the fact that Jake and Jane have to keep their affair a secret from their three grown children. Also, Jane has just started dating a nice architect named Adam, played by Steve Martin (“The Pink Panther”), who is designing Jane’s new kitchen.
Baldwin’s comic timing is exceedingly sharp and he and Streep play off one another beautifully. Their intimate moments do seem like those of a couple who have established a comfortable bond in spite of their breakup.
Baldwin also displays the poignant sensitivity of a man who realizes the colossal mistakes he’s made in his romantic choices.
Martin is also quite good as the voice of quiet maturity. At one point, his character Adam says to Jane, “Your age is one of the things I like best about you.” (Yep, Meyers knows her target audience well.)
Meyers takes a while to establish her story’s pace and tone. For the first two reels, it seems like the characters on screen hare having a lot more fun than the viewers.
Also, there’s no subtlety in her sitcom plotline and the supporting characters are sadly underwritten.
But these flaws mostly fade away thanks to a trio of gifted stars who make this material look a lot better than it is.
Streep, Baldwin and Martin make “It’s Complicated” simply entertaining. (R) Rating: ***1/2
* Avoid at all costs
** Only if you're bored
*** Good movie
**** Well worth your time
***** Be sure to see it