December 24, 2009 / 9:03 PM / 9 years ago

"It's Complicated": a man's film in a woman's world

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Nancy Meyers, the middle-aged men of America thank you.

Director Nancy Meyers arrives for the world premiere of "It's Complicated" in New York December 9, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

While older men are most often portrayed in films and on television as guys chasing the skirts of women half their age, your new movie “It’s Complicated” plays them somewhat differently.

It says: “They aren’t always that way — not always, anyway, and not all of them.”

Judging by the advertisements, “It’s Complicated” writer/director Meyers’ new comedy which debuts in theaters on Christmas Day appears to be a woman’s story. But audiences should not be fooled: men get their side, too.

“I don’t know that many men marry women as old as (main character) Jane, but that’s not to say that men don’t like women their own age,” Meyers told Reuters.

Still, she is quick to add, “That said, I’m sure there’s nothing better than a woman half your age looking up to you.”

Well okay, Nancy, you got us there.

“It’s Complicated,” tells of an older woman Jane, played by Meryl Streep, who is divorced from Jake (Alec Baldwin). He has remarried a younger, well-toned woman, while she has gone on to raise their three kids and run a successful business.

When Jake reappears in her life at her son’s graduation, an old spark rekindles and they resume their relationship. In essence, Jane becomes the “other woman” in Jake’s life.

But complicating matters is that Jane falls for another man, Adam, and she is taken by the fact that Adam (Steve Martin) wants nothing to do with younger women. The two relationships at an older age both refresh and complicate Jane’s life and, as they say in Hollywood, high jinks ensue.


Early reviews are mixed with many critics calling “It’s Complicated” pretty straightforward, and meant to put a smile on moviegoer faces without having to think too hard.

But reviews are less important in drawing a crowd for a movie like “It’s Complicated” than are advertisements, and its release at Christmas is a counter-programing move by Universal Pictures to offer older audiences their own comedy, among “Avatar” and “Sherlock Holmes” and other flicks aimed at younger fans.

Meyers, who turned 60 years-old this month, has made a very good living in notoriously male-dominated Hollywood by telling mostly female-oriented stories, starting with 1980 hit “Private Benjamin,” about a woman (Goldie Hawn) who joins the Army.

While women have had some success breaking Hollywood’s glass ceiling in television — see Oprah Winfrey and executives like Nancy Tellem of US TV network CBS — there has been less of that in the arena for big-budget, studio flicks dominated by action-adventure and comic book films like “Spider-Man.”

“The indie world has become so big, it allowed studios to make less-thoughtful movies, and that is where women have broken through...women gravitate toward that world,” she said.

What breeds success at the studio level are box office hits, Meyers’ said, and her comedies have enjoyed plenty.

“What Women Want” generated $374 million worldwide, and “Something’s Gotta Give” raked in $314 million. While her most recent “The Holiday,” only had $63 million in the U.S., another $141 million was collected from theaters internationally.

Why? They weren’t only about women; they were about women and men. “What Women Want” had its key character (Mel Gibson) getting in touch with his feminine side, and “Something’s Gotta Give” showed an old skirt chaser (Jack Nicholson) turning his eye toward an older woman after years of chasing young gals.

Note to major Hollywood studios: not all men are that shallow — not all, anyway.

Editing by Mary Milliken and Alex Dobuzinskis

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