Some movies are so terrible, all that’s left to enjoy is the accidental campy hilarity of it all. These movies include “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!” and, more recently, “2012.” And then there’s the rest of the crap. These movies (often romantic comedies) are not bad enough to be laughable, but certainly not good enough to enjoy. As it is, they are content to drift lazily along in the sea of mediocrity.

“It’s Complicated”

At Quality 16 and Showcase
Universal

Nancy Meyers, who wrote and directed “It’s Complicated,” is a paragon of said mediocrity. She is consistently contrived and unimaginative. Her dialogue feels like tooth decay. But she somehow found her target audience among naïve middle-aged housewives. Because of this, she has managed to enjoy a prolific career directing terrible movies like “Something’s Gotta Give” and “The Holiday.”

Meryl Streep (“The Devil Wears Prada”) is arguably the best currently working actress, and certainly one of the most productive. She enjoys the honor of being the most frequently nominated actress in the history of the Academy Awards. She can transform her voice and mannerisms like a chameleon, does a kick-ass Polish accent and is funny to boot.

“It’s Complicated” is the unfortunate marriage of Meyers and Streep. Meyers helms the tale of Jane (Streep), a 50-something divorcée caught in a love triangle with her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin, TV’s “30 Rock”) and her architect Adam (Steve Martin, “The Pink Panther”). Jake, still as immature and irresponsible as a newborn babe, is now married to a younger woman, and Jane has become the “other woman.” Adam, while shy and bumbling, offers a more solid future.

More interesting than the fights between Jane and Jake is the battle for dominance between Streep and Meyers. It feels like a war between Meyers’s horrible, syrupy sweet lines and Streep’s thespian grace.

The problem with Meyers isn’t so much that she’s portraying older people in romantic relationships, but that she’s depicting older people acting like hormonal adolescents. She treats the audience to frequent shots of Streep’s contented postcoital face writhing in ecstasy. It’s profoundly uncomfortable at best. Meyers also constantly needs to advertise how technologically relevant she is — Jane frequently video chats with Adam, they text and they constantly check their Blackberrys.

The title, presumably taken at least in part from the phrase occupying many a Facebook status (snaps for you, Nancy Meyers, for being so in-tune with our youth culture), is just as deceptive. In truth, it’s not that complicated. In the end, everybody lives a perfect life and the audience feels cheated out of something. There’s nothing with which to identify in these perfect shells of human beings.

They say you can’t make a good movie out of a terrible script, but Streep makes “It’s Complicated” a tolerable movie out of a terrible script. Baldwin and Streep are each seasoned actors with pleasant, watchable chemistry. As you wince through the cast’s fake, tinny laughs, look carefully at Streep’s eyes. It’s almost as if she is rolling them at the camera.

Meyers comes out the victor in the end, but just barely. Streep put up a good fight and, because of her noble effort, “It’s Complicated” isn’t as doomed to mediocrity as anticipated.

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