(director/writer: Nancy Meyers; cinematographer: John Toll; editors: Joe Hutshing/David Moritz; music: Hans Zimmer/ Heitor Pereira; cast: Meryl Streep (Jane Adler), Steve Martin (Adam), Alec Baldwin (Jake), Lake Bell (Agness), John Krasinski (Harley), Rita Wilson (Trisha), Mary Kay Place (Joanne), Alexandra Wentworth (Diane), Hunter Parrish (Luke), Zoe Kazan (Gabby), Caitlin Fitzgerald(Lauren), Emjay Anthony(Pedro); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Nancy Meyers/Scott Rudin; Universal Pictures; 2009)

“Pointlessly conveys throughout how important sex is in a relationship.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Flatly written and directed romcom by Nancy Meyers (“The Parent Trap”/”What Women Want”/”Something’s Gotta Give”), who raises fem issues and then backs off them without responding.To make matters worse, the stars are miscast: Meryl Streep, whose real age is 60, plays a fifty-something flustered sensual divorcee, whose many awkward giggles try to cover up her trite dialogue; a physically unappealing chubby Alec Baldwin, with one nude scene too many, is wrongly cast as the devilish ex-husband of Streep, who in a hammy way comes onto his first wife again even though now married to the much younger, more physically fit and sexier Agness (Lake Bell); Steve Martin is the star best suited for comedy, but instead plays a straight subdued nice guy milquetoast role, who is very boring as Streep’s love interest. There’s no help from the bland supporting cast, who speak meaningless sitcom talk and go through their roles as if puppets on a string. The American sex farce with hopes of being as mature as a French love triangle, turns out to be a spineless bittersweet fairytale for grown-ups that fizzles out from tedium as it pointlessly conveys throughout how important sex is in a relationshipand how complicated a divorce can be when it’s not over until it’s over.

The divorced Jane Adler (Meryl Streep) is a self-pitying, sex-starved, wealthy Santa Barbara resident, who lives on her vast upscale estate with her two sweet grown daughters (Zoe Kazan & Caitlin Fitzgerald) and a sweet son Luke (Hunter Parrish) set to graduate from a NYC college. But Jane is concerned she will soon be alone in the big house because the older daughter is soon to marry and the middle child is moving out and the college grad son is ready to be on his own. The pillar of the community is a chef/owner at a successful gourmet bakery/restaurant, but is melancholy because she has been divorced for ten years after being married for twenty years to her womanizing lawyer husband Jake (Alec Baldwin). When the Adler family treks to NYC to attend Luke’s college graduation, the aggressive Jake lures Jane into bed while they are staying at the same hotel. Back in sunny California, Jane has the same-aged divorced architect Adam (Steve Martin) remodel her kitchen and build for her a number of house additions. The viewer witnesses the sensible but boring Adam beginning a cautious romance with his client, while the ex-hubby becomes crazy hot over his ex-wife to the point he prefers sex with her over his hottie young wife. We’re asked to wonder which lover will Jane pick as her new soul-mate, as she must either choose the familiar cad or the emasculated divorcĂ© who has been unceremoniously dumped by his wife for his married best friend when the two couples vacationed in Italy.

It’s all humdrum, never that funny (the silly pot scene between Streep and Martin was just a weak slapstick routine) and, when it roams into sentimental romantic territory, turns soppy. Even the usually reliable Streep seems hemmed in by the way Meyers’ chick flick gives off with its ‘fuck you attitude’ to relationships, that it plays out as a cynical look at romance and a whimsical battle of the sexes stylish pic that celebrates the director’s narrow vision that a good hump goes a long way in making a lady feel vibrant. It even makes the Streep character feel bouncy when chatting with her raunchy girlfriends, in those daffy girls only scenes where the girls tell all.