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Jane is the mother of three grown kids, owns a thriving Santa Barbara bakery/restaurant and has - after a decade of divorce - an amicable relationship with her ex-husband, attorney Jake. But when Jane and Jake find themselves out of town for their son's college graduation, things start to get complicated. An innocent meal together turns into the unimaginable - an affair. With Jake remarried to the much younger Agness, Jane is now, of all things, the other woman. Caught in the middle of their renewed romance is Adam, an architect hired to remodel Jane's kitchen. Healing from a divorce of his own, Adam starts to fall for Jane, but soon realizes he's become part of a love triangle. Should Jane and Jake move on with their lives, or is love truly lovelier the second time around? It's--complicated.
For more about It's Complicated and the It's Complicated Blu-ray release, see It's Complicated Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 25, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, Lake Bell, John Krasinski, Hunter Parrish
Director: Nancy Meyers
» See full cast & crew
It's Complicated Blu-ray Review
It's Formulaic. It's Predictable. Eh, it's decent enough I suppose...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 25, 2010
You know the story. Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy and girl have three kids, boy and girl go through a messy divorce, boy and girl drift apart over the course of ten years, boy finds he's even more unhappy with his second wife, boy and girl get drunk after downing a few bottles of wine, boy and girl wake up together the next morning, boy and girl begin to have a secret affair, kids are completely oblivious, girl falls for a good-natured architect, boy gets a divorce and crashes at girl's house, boy wants to rekindle relationship, girl is torn between boy and new man... sigh. I could go on (and on), but I'll spare you the roadmap. It's Complicated is certainly complicated. Convoluted even. Unfortunately, that doesn't make its comedy any funnier, its script any more relevant, or its characters any more appealing. No, dear readers, these three thankless tasks fall to Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin, a truly talented trio of seasoned A-listers and veteran comedians without whom It's Complicated would crack and crumble as quickly as Jake and Jane's volatile marriage.
The boy in writer/director/producer Nancy Meyers' tangled tale is Jake Adler (Alec Baldwin), a sly, arguably well-intentioned salt-and-pepper attorney whose young, hot-tempered new wife, Agness (Boston Legal's Lake Bell), is more trophy than partner. The girl is Jane Adler (Meryl Streep), a dutiful mother, talented cook, and business owner who becomes both enamored and befuddled by her ex-husband's renewed affections. The good-natured architect that comes between them is Adam Schaffer (Steve Martin), a kind-hearted samaritan struggling to get his life back on track after dealing with a divorce of his own. And the kids caught in the middle of their obtuse love triangle? Welcome Luke (Weeds' Hunter Parrish), Gabby (Zoe Kazan), Lauren (Caitlin Fitzgerald), and Lauren's fiancé, Harley (John Krasinski), into the madness. Though confusing themselves and everyone around them in the process, Jake and Jane skirt the boundaries of love and lust, ruin yet another marriage, and break their share of hearts along the way. It's all played for laughs, sure, but to what end? Infidelity and deception have long been at the center of some of literature and film's greatest comedies, but here they're little more than cheap gimmicks; thinly strung plot threads that make it next to impossible to empathize with Jake and Jane. Or really anyone other than those victimized by their childish behavior, namely their kids and poor lovelorn Adam. Oddly enough, I felt far more sympathy for Agness than Jane, and Bell is given a mere fraction of the screentime Meyers affords Streep.
Similar to What Women Want, Something's Gotta Give, and The Holiday -- each one directed and in some cases written by Meyers -- It's Complicated is shallow and contrived, and ultimately fails to fulfill its potential. Meyers is so concerned with the situational comedy erupting around Jake and Jane that she neglects to properly develop any of her characters. Jake is little more than a thinly veiled archetype; a briskly sketched caricature of an aging lothario suffering the superficial pangs of loneliness and regret. While the tail end of his arc is fairly satisfying, it comes too abruptly and too late. Likewise, Jane is an infuriating damsel-in-emotional-distress who, despite ten years of strong assertions and accomplishments, seems to need a man to define her. As a protagonist she's frustrating and indecisive, as a mother she's short-sighted and selfish, as a woman she's erratic and insatiable. Most of all, she isn't the sort of person I enjoy rooting for over the course of two hours. And what of the other souls swirling down the Adlers' dirty drain? Adam is easily Meyers' most likable character, but he's thrust so far in the opposite direction that he'll strike most filmfans as too good to be true and, more to the point, too good for Jane. Harley is a schmaltzy incarnation of Krasinski's own Jim Halpert, minus the sharp bite and deadpan wit that makes The Office alum a joy to watch on television. Lauren, Gabby, and Luke are given little to do other than grin, gawk, and cry on cue, and are, at one point, sent through a screenwriter-forged time warp that literally leaves them cowering beneath their covers like pre-schoolers. Agness is briefly painted as a cold, would-be villain, then a desperate mother trying to get pregnant, then as a scorned wife, then a heartbroken young woman, then... well, then she's swept away, never to be seen again.
Yet somehow, by some strange genre miracle, Baldwin, Streep, and Martin almost make it work. Almost. They don't do anything they haven't done before, and each one mines the depths of their individual bags of tricks, but they represent the lone bastion in an otherwise derivative romcom wasteland. Baldwin is as slimy, inexplicably charming, and self-serving as Jack Donaghy (with some late-game vulnerability thrown in for good measure), Streep is as aloof and neurotic as Donna Sheridan (with more believable mood swings), and Martin is as sweet and forgiving as nearly every sappy, endearing soul he's ever played. Through the film's best and worst, they prove themselves to be consummate professionals, readily elevating the material regardless of how stringy and ungainly their dialogue becomes. In spite of Meyer's inevitable sentimental shenanigans, they make the film's drama weightier and its comedy more engaging than it would be without them. I continually found myself at odds with their characters, but rarely at odds with their performances; I had a difficult time with Jake and Jane's decisions, but not the manner in which Baldwin and Streep handled those decisions. In fact, had Meyers' tone been more consistent and her characters more accessible, the actors' efforts may have won me over completely. Sadly, It's Complicated is just an average romantic comedy that happens to have an exceptional cast. It doesn't address the real-life issues pulsing beneath the surface of its story and setup, experiment with its plotting or characters, or bring anything new to the genre table. At its best, it's sure to strike older viewers as a timely but flawed crowd-pleaser. At its worst, it's sure to leave young romantics praying their lives never resemble anything like Jake and Jane's.
It's Complicated Blu-ray, Video Quality
It's Complicated features a sharp and striking 1080p/VC-1 transfer; a tightly tuned, fittingly mature presentation that lends the film a rather sophisticated appearance. Blessed with a fine veneer of grain, the image is clean and stable, colors are thoroughly satisfying, black levels are nice and deep, and skintones, though a tad toasty on the whole, are consistent. Fine detail is just as remarkable, transforming every errant wrinkle and silver hair into a source of humor all its own. Texture clarity and object definition are spot on and I didn't see any signs of meddlesome edge enhancement or noise reduction. That's not to say every scene, shot and frame of the film will draw blood -- softness creeps in on occasion -- but John Toll's kettle-cooked intentions remain intact. The technical presentation is pristine as well, and none of the usual suspects (artifacting and eyesores of its ilk) stir up trouble. Granted, black hair, dark fabric, and shadows merge in a handful of shots, but I suspect each instance is attributable to Toll's photography, not Universal's encoding efforts. All things considered, It's Complicated looks quite good. Romcommers should be more than pleased with the results.
It's Complicated Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Front-heavy seems to be the adjective du jour when describing a romantic comedy audio mix and, polished and proficient as it is, Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is just that. Crystal clear dialogue dominates the soundscape while the rear speakers are reserved for dinner party ambience, subtle interior acoustics, and a few choice sequences (primarily involving rain storms, family arguments, and hotel lobbies). Heitor Pereira and Hans Zimmer's score is light and playful, commandeering the soundfield when appropriate and retreating into the background whenever necessary. Prioritization is impeccable, silverware clinks and crowd chatter are never lost in the mix, and directionality is relatively precise. LFE output is pleasantly restrained, pans are smooth and graceful, and separation is decent (especially considering the nature of the film). Universal's lossless track isn't going to inspire any colorful hyperbole, but it doesn't really need to. Faithful to a fault, it proves itself capable again and again, and does a fine job with everything it's handed. I doubt Meyers' film could sound much better than it does here.
It's Complicated Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
It may not be bursting with supplemental content, but the Blu-ray release of It's Complicated still offers a semi-decent selection of special features. First and foremost, writer/director/producer Nancy Meyers, executive producer Suzanne Farwell, director of photography John Toll, and editor Joe Hutshing deliver an informative, extensive, and low-key commentary that addresses every aspect of the production. It's dry at times, but the filmmakers rarely pursue tangents, instead honing in on the characters and the story, discussing the genesis of the project and the development of Meyers' screenplay, and dissecting each actor's comedic timing and overall performance. While more humor would have been nice -- my attention drifted on more than one occasion -- and while Meyers tends to narrate the events unfolding on the screen, it's a solid track that should appeal to fans. Next up is "The Making of It's Complicated" (HD, 21 minutes), a paint-by-numbers EPK burdened with countless film clips and plot synopses. Still, the cast and crew interview segments, personal anecdotes, and brief bits of behind-the-scenes footage are appreciated. Several Pocket Blu apps (for iPhones, BlackBerrys, Androids, and more), Social Blu tools, BD-Live Functionality, My Scenes bookmarking, streaming movie trailers, and a Universal News Ticker round out the disc.
It's Complicated Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Though intended for more seasoned genre addicts, It's Complicated fails to surprise, ring true, or offer its narrow target audience anything they haven't laughed at before. Still, its cast elevates the film above the average dreck, injecting their infectious charm wherever it lacks soul. To its credit, Universal's Blu-ray release is more affecting than the film itself. With a strong and steady video transfer and a fit and faithful DTS-HD Master Audio track, the disc's lone disappointment is its meager (albeit passable) supplemental package. Ultimately, I'm sure romcom regulars will enjoy everything from the film to its presentation, but more judicious romantics should considering renting It's Complicated before making a more serious commitment.
It's Complicated: Other Editions
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