Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's (Not That) Complicated

So, with the new HDTV and Blu Ray player in place, I hardly ever go OUT to the movies anymore. I mean, I have something like 125 movies in my Netflix streaming queue, some of them in HD. My God. Why spend ten bucks or more to see something I will be able to see more comfortably in, say, three months time at home?

Well, sometimes you just hafta, you know what I mean?

If there's a movie opening in December and it features Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, with a supporting role played by John Krasinski, going to the multiplex automatically appears on the agenda.

Nancy Meyers, the writer director of IT'S COMPLICATED, has some cred. PRIVATE BENJAMIN, the remake of FATHER OF THE BRIDE, SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE. Pretty decent stuff. And the cast. Come on. Heavy hitters.

And that's...almost the problem here.

Not that there's a problem.

Well, there is. But not a huge one.

It's about a 20-minute problem. Somewhere in IT'S COMPLICATED is twenty minutes of film that needed to be left on the cutting room floor. Or, these days, in the "Save It For The DVD" file on the Mac. The great cast is a problem because they pretty much make those twenty minutes, wherever they are, interesting. Just as interesting as they make the other hundred minutes of the film. So when you look at the twenty minutes, you say, what's the problem? Then you get home late for dinner, and you see the problem.

No ground is broken here. Unless you consider an adult film made and performed by adults ground breaking. And you might.

Meryl and Alec are divorced. They are the parents of the three MOST WELL ADJUSTED GROWN CHILDREN IN HISTORY. They are so well-adjusted, one of them is going to marry Krasinski, who is KING of the well-adjusted on film and on TV these days. Alec has married a hot Latina (her kid is named Pedro and she is dark and beautiful, so I take the leap) who is twenty-five years his junior and who broke up with him once to go have her kid with another guy. We know Alec is not going to succeed here. Meryl is succeeding as a restaurant owner and chef. She is adding on to her house and Steve Martin is her architect. Alec wants to come back to Meryl, Meryl is hot for Alec but likes Steve, Steve likes Meryl and he's going through the throes of divorce. We see plot points coming at us from miles away.

But these actors are just so damned good.

And Meryl is the best.

She has to be, to carry off the somewhat fantastical fancies she has to accommodate in the screenplay. We stay with her because we know she can do this. Otherwise, we would go out for popcorn. Nobody but Meryl could play this character believably. Because hers is not really a believable character.

Alec is believable, because he's been written and seen a million times before.

Steve is believable because we just plain like him no matter what he does on film, and what he does here is restrained and honest and downright nice.

I've heard people recently say that Krasinski always plays "Jim," the character he plays on THE OFFICE. A legitimate critique.

Still--go find somebody who does this better than he does.

Jimmy Stewart never played a wide range of types in the movies.

And Stewart may have been the best film actor ever.

In the final analysis, IT'S COMPLICATED just isn't. It tries to be. But by the time we get past the 90-minute mark, the complications seem forced and impossible. I'm thinking this happens about the time Meryl lights up the joint. Yeah. There.

Still, you wanna see movie acting?

See it.

Wait till you get it at home, maybe.

But do see it.

And, if you can, see Meryl in JULIE AND JULIA. Then compare that to this.

She is the best.

Have I said that already?

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