A romantic comedy for the empty-nest crowd, It's Complicated isn't the most well-written movie in the world, but its leading actors could make up for just about any shortcoming. It stars Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin as Jane and Jake, a couple who weathered a messy divorce a decade earlier, following over 20 years of marriage. Now that all their kids are college age or older, they've become comfortable with their new roles in each other's lives -- so much so that they begin an illicit affair, even though Jake is remarried (to the hot but bitchy Agness, played by Lake Bell), and Jane is experiencing sparks of romance with her architect Adam (Steve Martin).
To say that Streep and Baldwin outshine the material would be a huge understatement. While the writing is full of overly confusing backstory and corny, clichéd dialogue, the two leading actors are usually so fun and engrossing that, again and again, you forget how mediocre the script is. Jake's supposed history with Agness, for instance, is played as fairly tedious and entrenched -- she's supposed to be the young, hot thing he left his wife for, but the timeline is oblique, and she has a young child that doesn't fit into the narrative very cleanly -- but Baldwin emotes with such meticulous nuance, not to mention immense gravitas, that the overall tone of Jake's relationship with his second wife remains clear throughout even the most gaping holes in the narrative.
Sadly, comedic heavyweight Steve Martin doesn't get as much chance to use his chops, and is mostly relegated to a downer role as a timid, tertiary character -- a major disappointment, considering the kind of classic screwball antics that Martin could have added to the production. He does get an eventual chance to cut loose, however, in a party scene that it would be a shame to spoil. It probably wouldn't be quite accurate to say that the cinematic kingpins who carry It's Complicated are able to make it a good movie, but they're able to make it a fun one -- and to try and explain it any further would probably just be too complicated.