One of the appealing things about Nancy Meyers' new romantic comedy is that it's ... complicated. The film's three main characters, played by Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, aren't just names with occupations attached, as in another forthcoming romantic comedy, "Leap Year," in which we learn the names and occupations (stager, cardiologist) of the main characters but never see them at work or get any back story.
Jane (Streep), a restaurateur; Jake (Baldwin), her ex, a lawyer; and Adam (Martin), an architect, all have histories: families, relationships. Jane and Jake are divorced after a 19-year marriage and three grown kids. Jake is now married to Agness (Lake Bell), a ferociously beautiful, much younger woman with a bratty 5-year-old. Agness's attempts to get pregnant again lead to some funny scenes about fertility treatments.
The main action has to do with Jake's attempt to win Jane back -- or not. Meanwhile, she's beginning to have feelings for Adam, who is designing an addition to her house. (Will someone explain to me why this gazillion-dollar Santa Barbara adobe with a perfect kitchen needs a two-story addition with a new kitchen?) Jake and Jane have both changed: Could they make it work this time when it didn't before? And would Jane want it to? And what about Agness?
Despite the film's glossy, money-is-no-object veneer, its characters have the feel of real people. This shows particularly in Jane and Jake's three children, who have genuine family feeling, despite the fact that the actors (Caitlin Fitzgerald, Zoe Kazan and Hunter Parrish) don't look at all alike.
Meryl Streep's Jane is bubbly -- a bit like her Julia Child, complete with residence in Paris and career as a chef (chef is the new rock star). But she's also anxious about her age and her status as a single woman. Alec Baldwin is all energy and bluster, while Steve Martin surprisingly plays the self-effacing straight man.
In a way, the film, like Nancy Meyers' 2003 "Something's Gotta Give," is a chick flick for the post-menopausal set. And what's so wrong with that?