(1-1-10) Greetings again from the darkness. Making Romantic Comedies that women love and men can tolerate is very difficult. Writer/director Nancy Myers has become the most successful female director in Hollywood for this genre. Unfortunately her films’ appeal always lean toward the female perspective and rank high on the cringe factor for men. Examples include Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday and What Women Want. Compare this work to that of Nora Ephron’s When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail and, Julie and Julia. Actually there is little comparison. Ephron understands how adults think and Myers is focused on women’s fantasies.
Still, Myers has tapped into the female psyche and delivers what they want. Here the great and beautiful and highly successful Meryl Streep is pursued and coveted by both Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. Oh yeah, Baldwin is a successful lawyer and Martin a successful architect. Wouldn’t quite fulfill the fantasy if one of the pursuers worked at a bowling alley, eh?
Comedy ensues when adultery, lying and alcohol and drugs become involved. Nothing funnier than the topics that destroy people’s lives. I tend to give viewers a bit more credit. Most already understand that people don’t shrivel up when they get divorced or turn 55. Life goes on and continues to blossom, if you work at it – just like when you are 25.
On the bright side, Streep and Baldwin are very good in their roles. There are some very well written scenes and Streep is such a master that she makes EVERY one of her scenes a bit better than it otherwise would be. Steve Martin is given little to do other than a stupid skit in the car with a self-help disc on getting over a divorce (2 years later) and a failed bit with web cam where Streep helps him clean out his wardrobe.
Supporting work from John Krasinski (The Office), Lake Bell and an over the top Rita Wilson add the elements you would expect. There is even an homage paid to The Graduate – possibly an admission by Ms. Myers that her movie on adultery is far less than the gold standard.