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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

It's Complicated

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The aptly titled "It's Complicated" (Universal/Relativity) features an ethically tangled story demanding careful evaluation by mature viewers. Indeed, to quote the perplexed monarch of Siam in Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical "The King and I," from a Catholic moral perspective, "Is a puzzlement."

That's because writer-director Nancy Meyers' aesthetically smooth-running romantic comedy concerns a couple—successful bakery-restaurant owner Jane (Meryl Streep) and legal eagle Jake Adler (Alec Baldwin)—who, a decade after their divorce, reconnect and have an affair. This, despite his second marriage to much younger "trophy wife" Agness (Lake Bell) and Jane's budding romance with Adam (Steve Martin), an architect working on an addition to her home.

Assuming their union was valid to begin with, however, the pair's seeming adultery—presented as a daring feminist adventure for Streep's well-delineated character—would, in fact, be marital lovemaking. Yet the breach of trust with the new "spouse" can hardly be excused, and adds a further twist to the spiritually convoluted proceedings.

In its more serious moments, Meyer's script does highlight the lasting emotional toll exacted on children when their parents split. Thus the three grown kids of the original match—Lauren (Caitlin Fitzgerald), Gabby (Zoe Kazan) and Luke (Hunter Parrish)—straightforwardly acknowledge that they're still hurt by the long-ago breakup.

And, in a touching scene, Jake and Agness' usually bratty young son Pedro (Emjay Anthony) shows his instinctive affection for his father, while being tucked into bed, by sleepily pressing Jake's hand to his heart, a gesture made all the more poignant by the audience's knowledge that, by now, Jake is seriously considering deserting Agness and Pedro to return to Jane.

Like the chats Jane enjoys with her quartet of best friends, who also serve as her misguided romantic advisers, the conclusion toward which the plot moves accords more with freewheeling contemporary mores than with the perennial wisdom of church doctrine.

The film contains complex moral issues; skewed values; implied sexual activity, some of it adulterous; off-screen masturbation; fleeting rear nudity; considerable drug use; some sexual references and humor; and a half-dozen crude or crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.



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Elizabeth of Portugal: Elizabeth is usually depicted in royal garb with a dove or an olive branch. At her birth in 1271, her father, Pedro III, future king of Aragon, was reconciled with his father, James, the reigning monarch. This proved to be a portent of things to come. Under the healthful influences surrounding her early years, she quickly learned self-discipline and acquired a taste for spirituality. Thus fortunately prepared, she was able to meet the challenge when, at the age of 12, she was given in marriage to Denis, king of Portugal. She was able to establish for herself a pattern of life conducive to growth in God’s love, not merely through her exercises of piety, including daily Mass, but also through her exercise of charity, by which she was able to befriend and help pilgrims, strangers, the sick, the poor—in a word, all those whose need came to her notice. At the same time she remained devoted to her husband, whose infidelity to her was a scandal to the kingdom. 
<p>He, too, was the object of many of her peace endeavors. She long sought peace for him with God, and was finally rewarded when he gave up his life of sin. She repeatedly sought and effected peace between the king and their rebellious son, Alfonso, who thought that he was passed over to favor the king’s illegitimate children. She acted as peacemaker in the struggle between Ferdinand, king of Aragon, and his cousin James, who claimed the crown. And finally from Coimbra, where she had retired as a Franciscan tertiary to the monastery of the Poor Clares after the death of her husband, she set out and was able to bring about a lasting peace between her son Alfonso, now king of Portugal, and his son-in-law, the king of Castile.</p> American Catholic Blog In the name of the Father, use my mind to bring you honor, and of the Son, fill my heart to spread your word, and of the Holy Spirit, strengthen me to carry you out to all the world. Amen.

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