Christmas Movie Reviews

It's Complicated

Writer/producer/director Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, Something's Gotta Give) brings us another film geared to the middle-aged female audience. Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia) plays Jane, a self-reliant divorcee with three grown children and a successful bakery business. Ten years after her divorce, she finally has a good relationship with her ex-husband Jake (Lymelife's Alec Baldwin), a successful attorney who has remarried a much-younger woman. While attending their son's college graduation, Jane and Jake end up having a fun-filled dinner --just the two of them. And this leads to an affair between the two, making Jane "the other woman" for a change. Complicating matters is Adam (Steve Martin), an architect Jane hires to remodel her house. Adam is healing from a divorce of his own, but has begun to fall in love with Jane.

I wanted to like this movie so much more than I actually did. Streep, Baldwin and Martin are great actors who deserved a better script. John Krasinski (Away We Go), who plays the fiance of Jane and Jake's oldest daughter, was the only supporting actor who stood out. Unfortunately, the actors playing the three adult children were a bit flat. And scenes with Streep and her girlfriends were painful. Two of these girlfriends were played by Alexandra Wentworth and Rita Wilson -- mediocre actresses at best. If you're going to cast Meryl Streep -- you better surround her with better actors. Alas, I can only slightly recommend this movie -- and only because Streep, Baldwin, Martin and Krasinski manage to bring just enough laughs to predictable storytelling. [Rated R; opens today]

Grade: B-

Sherlock Holmes

Director Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch) resurrects Arthur Conan Doyle's famous sleuth and sidekick, Dr. John Watson. Purists will complain that this action-oriented retelling is a bit out of character for Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law), but the action sequences are fun. So, too, are the great sets and costumes that transport you back to 1891 London.

Downey (The Soloist) and Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley) are perfectly cast -- and have great chemistry together. But the scriptwriters failed to fully capitalize on that great chemistry. The writing team of Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg had the opportunity to bring more humor to the relationship -- and the story overall, but fall short. The plot centers on a conspiracy to destroy Great Britain. The film opens with Holmes apprehending the murderous cult leader Lord Henry Blackwood (Mark Strong), who promises he will return from the dead and exact his revenge as he is being led to the gallows. Along for the ride is Rachel McAdams (The Time Traveler's Wife) who plays a femme fatale who once outwitted Holmes -- and is back for more deceit.

Sadly, McAdams' character is never fully-developed -- and she is mostly wasted. And the Lord Blackwood plot is at times simplistic, predictable and dare I say, even boring. Luckily, Downey and Law fill the screen with plenty of fun to carry the film. If you have high expectations for this film, you may leave disappointed. But my expectations were low, so I left happy enough. [Rated PG-13, opens today]

Grade: B


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