I gotta admit, this column by Patrick Goldstein warmed my cockles a bit. It is chivalrous and kind. Nancy Meyers, Nora Ephron and Penny Marshall all fit into the group of women who make movies that become big hits like their male contemporaries and yet the women are deeply loathed, far more than male directors who make comparable films. Women, it seems, are required to be saints or whores (or both?) and can’t ever just be. It’s a compliment (women rule the world) but it makes regular life harder than it would otherwise be)
It would be easy to¬†advise Meyers¬†to ignore her detractors and laugh all the way to the bank since she is the town’s top woman director, in terms of compensation¬†(she¬†gets paid upwards of $12 million a picture, plus a piece of the gross)¬†and overall box-office appeal. But it’s still gotta hurt. But even if you aren’t enamored by her subject matter, consider what would happen if Meyers wasn’t around. Who would be left in Hollywood making films that actually chronicle the love lives of middle-age women and their men, a¬†once immensely popular genre that¬†has¬†been abandoned by studios¬†who appear to be obsessed with the bonding rituals of sulky teenagers (see “Twilight”) and young Jewish comics (see the Judd Apatow oeuvre)?
In fact, it’s sort of surprising to see that the same critics who¬†wax nostalgic about the wondrous craft of old Hollywood find it so difficult to offer even a tiny kernel of appreciation for Meyers,¬†even though she is pretty much working the same turf as Garson Kanin, Mitchell Leisen, Joseph Mankiewicz, Leo McCarey and Gregory La Cava, who all did comedies just as fluffy, fun¬†and escapist as anything Meyers has ever had a hand in.
Marshall Fine declares It’s Complicated the kind of movie his mother would like, and I would have to agree with that. It isn’t a movie that is going to edge her own ego forward, but it is a movie made to entertain people, like Julie & Julia, etc. Look, I’m not defending the movie but I am saying we can’t expect it to be Summer Hours when it is not intended to be Summer Hours.¬† Anyway, I suspect It’s Complicated will make a lot of money because, like The Blind Side, it appeals more broadly to a different majority than are usually drawn to the more critically acclaimed fare. I’m thinking that Hollywood needs these kinds of movies because they satisfy in an escapist way, not unlike porn, for what it’s worth.