03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

'Complicated' Doesn't Equate With 'Funny'

There is little doubt in anyone's mind that Meryl Streep can do anything. She can learn perfect German, be a middle-aged Italian, a mysterious English woman in another century, or Julia Child, letter and recipe perfect. But she cannot make a silk comedy out of a sow's screenplay.

In the allegedly delightful scenario that is to come to us on Christmas Day, It's Complicated gives us Meryl as the ex-wife of a philanderingly attractive Alec Baldwin, married to the hot young woman he dumped her for. The two ex-es are drawn into a steamy affair, to the consternation of their adult children, who are finally getting used to the idea of their parents being divorced. Not a bad premise, but to care for people in a comedy, no matter how much you like or enjoy the actors, including a vulnerable and touching Steve Martin as a would-be new suitor, there has to be wit, besides what the players bring to the parts. And this is witless at best, uncomfortable at worst, as hard as the actors try to bring their personal appeal and geniality to the script. It's just NOT FUNNY.

Alec Baldwin brings perceptible intelligence and sexuality, even with a paunch, to a thanklessly satirical role, which in spite of the one-dimensionality with which it is written he manages to infuse with caring from his still luminous blue eyes, that manage to shine even as he looks down at the contemptuous six-year child his new wife had behind his back. But his back is not what he sends a shot of over the computer in what is obviously supposed to be a hilarious moment that is tasteless in the extreme. And I do mean extreme, in the genital sense, as if a man's parts were as exciting to women as female porn is to men. In the same way, an evening among the girls talking of vaginas is as close as the movie comes to repartee. Oy.

The biggest puzzle of course is how this actress of such exquisite sensibilities could mistake this for a comedy. We know there is nothing she can't do but not when it comes to nothing. She is a national--international really--treasure, and should protect herself. Still beautiful in her unorthodox way, still charming and radiating palpable femininity, she should not put herself at risk doing what masquerades as comedy but is actually simply silly.