I'm not sure why. I do have my suspicions.
Meryl Streep was lovely as a middle-aged divorcee still trying to get on with her life after 10 years of being on her own. She's just sent her last child out into the world and suddenly is facing life alone as she never did quite manage to "get back out there."
Alex Baldwin plays her ex - a totally unsympathetic character until you see the scenes of just him and his new wife and Pedro. At which point your judgement of him as a total and complete jerk relaxes and you can see why what happens happens.
Steve Martin is a shy architect dealing with his own divorce fall-out, who has the unlucky job of being Meryl's first love interest since her divorce and is, unfortunately, competing with the ex-husband. It's a very understated role for him, but he makes shy architect quite believable.
It did get long in a couple of places, but overall, I'd say it was a good movie, well acted and a common, if difficult, storyline.
So why was this movie so reviled in print? First off, the Alec Baldwin character is a bit of a blowhard. Every one's buddy, loud and jocular and a bit of a buffoon. Over the top, really - but don't all of us actually KNOW someone like that? Steve Martin almost fades away in comparison with his gentle, quiet character. I can see why Meryl's character was torn. I've had relationships with both types of man. The buffoon is kind of fun but wearying. The quiet guy is steady and loving, but can get a little boring. The trick is to find someone who is a little of both - for me a little more on the quiet side. I got lucky when I found my Darling Man.
I have a feeling that this movie was reviewed mostly by men, who looked at the "hero" roles in this piece and said that they were totally unbelievable. And the fact that Meryl Streep is getting up there in years made her seem unbelievable as a coveted love interest between the two men. Any man looking at the new young wife would say, "now that's what I'm talking about....", but to me she seemed hard and selfish and a little too sure of her value and a little too dismissive of the experience of life and true love.
I liked this movie a lot. And I can't wait to see another heavily panned chick flick - "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" with Sam Elliot (LOVE him) and Hugh Grant (LOVE him). Oh, yeah - and Sarah Jessica Parker (eh...).