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HTF DVD Review: IT'S COMPLICATED



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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Ed Faver

Ed Faver

    Second Unit

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  • Join Date: Jul 30 1999

Posted April 26 2010 - 03:21 PM

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IT'S COMPLICATED (SD-DVD)


Release Date: April 27, 2010
Studio: Universal
Run Time: 121 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: R for some drug use and sexuality
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English/Spanish/French, English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles
MSRP: $29.98

THE MOVIE

Hollywood's most honored female director might be Kathryn Bigelow, but the go-to gal when it's time to make money is Nancy Meyers, the writer-director of It's Complicated. She seems to have found the right wavelength for communicating with a potential segment of audience that the studios choose to take for granted: women over the age of 40. It's Complicated is built for this audience and is a perfect companion piece to another Meyers picture, Something's Gotta Give. And as good as Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton were in the latter, Meyers has come up with a perfect casting formula for an, unfortunately, pedestrian formula movie in the former. While It's Complicated is easy to watch and has a fair number of smiles in it, Meyers' target audience--that she nearly has to herself--deserve better.

Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin give wings to Meyers' script, a wish-fulfillment fantasy for women who are past an age where they can believably substitute themselves for the ladies in the Sex and the City films. Streep and Baldwin play a divorced couple, Jane and Jake, who are able to behave 'civilized' with each other. They live in exclusive Santa Barbara, attend anniversary parties for friends still married (held at fabulous homes overlooking the deep blue Pacific) and party with their children, three young folks plucked right out of the pages of J.Crew. The kids, along with a soon-to-be son-in-law, Harley (John Kraszinski), tell us about the 'bad years' when the fractured couple couldn't talk to each other. Thankfully for the story, that is (conveniently) behind us. In place of sex, Jane decides to have a major remodel done to her already perfect home. Enter Adam, her sad and sensitive architect, still hurting from his own divorce, played by Steve Martin. We know Jane and Adam are interested in each other as they exchange meaningful smiles and stammer back and forth.

Jake is remarried to a much younger hottie whose bare midriff makes the single and alone (read: horny) Jane feel inadequate. This despite the fact that Jane is a gourmet pastry chef who runs an incredibly upscale bakery where people pack the joint to joyfully pay twelve bucks for a coffee and croissant. But, all is not well for Jake. The young hottie wants a baby and drags Jake to a fertility clinic to make 'deposits' in a little cup. During a trip to New York for their youngest child's graduation (presumably from whichever NY college is the most expensive), Jane and Jake (whose hottie wife had to stay out west--imagine that!) find themselves alone together while the kids go to a trendy downtown party. They have an alcohol-fueled dinner that leads to sex. Sex rekindles Jake's feelings for Jane and hilarity ensues.

Once back in California, Jane's home remodel proceeds as does her affair with Jake. She has coffee and pastries with her buddies (Mary Kay Place, Rita Wilson, and Alexandra Wentworth) and they pump Jane for details about her sex life in a way that borders on distasteful and never approaches funny. Soon enough, Jane, after a decade alone, finds herself juggling the amorous attentions of both Adam and Jake.  Only the son-in-law, Harley, knows what's going on after accidentally observing Jane and Jake arriving for a hotel tryst. As the affair proceeds, and Adam presses her for attention, Jane becomes more unhinged. A decision has to be made: Adam, Jake, or nobody. You'll have to watch the movie to find out what happened.

Although I am poking fun at It's Complicated, I had a good time watching it. Streep, Baldwin, and Martin are a lot of fun to watch and there are many jokes in the film that work. John Kraszinski easily steals the picture both with his line deliveries and his physical comedy. He is a joy to watch throughout. The script is generally lame. It's difficult to believe that this successful businesswoman would fall apart so easily over men. The kids are just a tad too perfect. Jake's hottie wife is just a bit too predictably self-involved. Our leads are not quite perfect. Streep, while delivering a performance that serves the script, looks just a little bit too old to be Baldwin's peer. While Martin is at least 10 times the comedian Baldwin is, he's barely half the actor. Baldwin is the only one to whom I can give top marks. He continues his career renaissance by being fearless, charming, and a delight.

It's Complicated is deeply flawed, and yet, it's comfortable. Comfortable, I would venture to say, for audiences of a certain age. This ain't for the Kick Ass crowd. It could have been much more. Meyers is known for micromanaging her sets and locations, down to the tiniest detail. It shows in the design and art direction. Jane's home is to die for. The restaurants she eats in are to die for. Her gigantic backyard garden is to die for. I can only imagine the movie we would have seen if the script was on par with the homes, the clothes, the food...all the inert stuff had more internal life than our characters. That said, you could do worse if you are looking for a gift for your mom this Mother's Day.

A word about the MPAA's rating of this film: It's Complicated received a R rating for sexuality and 'some' drug use. Exactly one marijuana cigarette is smoked in this film. It is used in a comedy scenario and there are no negative consequences to the act. All parties involved are at least 30 years of age. Any sex in the film is off-screen. We see some post-coital conversations and Alec Baldwin's bare ass, but is this really the stuff of an R rating? I have to think the happy pot smoking led to the R, but the filmmakers were poorly served by the MPAA. This picture should have received a PG-13.

RATING: 2.5/5

VIDEO

It's Complicated is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The picture is generally sharp with rich colors. Meyers' palette is quite colorful and the DVD is a satisfactory representation of what was on the theater screens. There are several evening scenes inside Jane's home. They are warm and pleasing to the eye. There were no noticeable flaws or artifacts in the image.

RATING: 4/5

AUDIO

The soundtrack is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Dialogue is mostly restricted to the front speakers and is crisp and clear. There are several long scenes at parties, restaurants, and other crowded areas. The dialogue never suffers. The song-studded music track fills the surround speakers as does background dialogue and other ambient sounds. Generally well-done all around.

RATING: 5/5

EXTRAS


Special features are limited to a 'making of' feature and a commentary track by Nancy Meyers and the production team. No actors involved. I did not listen to the entire track. What I did hear was fairly technical. Meyers explains a great deal of the subtext of Streep's character. It's a shame that the film did not do it on its own.

The Making of It's Complicated is an extended EPK. It is notable for a couple of things. Virtually all of the talking heads in the feature go out of their way to assure us that It's Complicated is NOT a Chick Flick. It is said firmly and with conviction. And you can almost see each person's nose grow as they say it. We also learn that the movie, with the exception of the gorgeous outdoor location shots, was filmed in Brooklyn. It might look like Santa Barbara, but the whole thing, including Jane's front yard, was on a soundstage in Brooklyn. It is most impressive.

Aside from a couple of trailers for other Universal films, that's it.

RATING: 2.5/5

SUMMARY

It's Complicated has a top-shelf cast and a first-rate creative team behind the camera. It fails to live up to the expected pedigree. While it's a comfortable watch, there's something phony and plastic about the whole operation. So much talent just spinning its wheels. At least they look like they had a good time doing it!

OVERALL RATING (NOT AN AVERAGE): 2.5/5





#2 of 2 OFFLINE   Peter McM

Peter McM

    Supporting Actor

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  • Join Date: Nov 18 1999

Posted April 28 2010 - 04:01 AM

I'm a 46-year-old man.  I saw this in the theatre with my wife sitting on one side of me, and my mom on the other.  All three of us loved this movie!  Meryl Streep could act the phone book and I'd love it, and Steve Martin is is genteel best.  I agree about the rating.
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