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In The Land Of Women (2006)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Director:
Jonathan Kasdan Jonathan Kasdan
Starring:
Adam Brody Adam Brody
Kelsey Keel Kelsey Keel
Danielle Savre Danielle Savre
Gia Mantegna Gia Mantegna
Rob Reinis Rob Reinis

6.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Comedy Drama, Coming-Of-Age, Romantic Drama
After a bad breakup with his girlfriend leaves him heartbroken, Carter Webb moves to Michigan to take care of his ailing grandmother. Once there, he gets mixed up in the lives of the mother and daughters who live across the street. --TMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 03, 2007
Ah, the Kasdan Family. Father Lawrence Kasdan has been one of Hollywood's most prolific directors for a while now with credits like "Grand Canyon", "The Big Chill" and "The Accidental Tourist". Big brother Jake was responsible for the critically lauded "Zero Effect" and the commercially successful "Orange County" from a few years back. Jonathan Kasdan, the youngest of the clan, has never directed a motion picture before. Whereas Lawrence has always tried to stay away from the Hollywood mainstream - even his adaptation of Stephen King's "Dreamcatcher" had a very odd and indie vibe, Jake Kasdan has never shied away from films that appeal to mainstream audiences. Jonathan Kasdan seems to be stuck in the middle, but with only one film to is credit, it's difficult to say what kind of director he is going to become. However, based on the feelings I had watching "In the Land of Women", I would say he has a good shot of being a bad director. There are always some members of the family that do not benefit from the artistic surplus elsewhere, and I think the black sheep of the Kasdan Family might be the baby of the flock, Jonathan. "In the Land of Women" is so pointless, it re-definies the definition of existence. It's really not good.

There is no excuse for a film like this. In his first leading role...ever...Adam Brody stars as Carter Webb, a soft-core porn writer who opens the film getting dumped by his model girlfriend Sofia (Elena Anaya). He then visits his mother (JoBeth Williams), who tells him that his elderly grandmother in Michigan (Olympia Dukakis) thinks she is dying. Under the impression that moving to Michigan to take care of her a while might help him write his novel and forget his girl, Carter packs up shop and makes the trip immediately. There he meets Sarah Hardwicke (Meg Ryan), a forty-something housewife who partakes in daily walks with Carter. He also meets her daughter, Lucy (Kristen Stewart), who likes Carter a lot and uses him to help win some popularity points with her high school friends. If you can't find a plot developing already, that's because there doesn't seem to be one. I guess the plot is - young man moves away to find himself, then meets girl and girl's mother and rediscovers self. But, that's really not accurate either. The character of Carter doesn't really discover anything except that he delivers pretty good Neil Simon dialogue.

As writer and director, Jonathan Kasdan obviously just assumed his film was going to be good because he was a Kasdan. I assume Meg Ryan and Olympia Dukakis joined the film because they thought they were being directed by Lawrence Kasdan. This film is just a mess. It doesn't know if it wants to be a heartbreaking drama, a quirky comedy, a coming-of-age flick or a romantic comedy. It doesn't have a clue, and neither did I. Adam Brody's character, Carter, seemed to be the mirror duplicate of the character of Eugene Morris Jerome from "Brighton Beach Memoirs". He is a rich man's Jonathan Silverman. Kasdan, a first time director, relies too heavily on an actor who has never held a leading role; an actor whose previous work is summed up by a once popular television drama, "The O.C." and films like "Grind" and a bit part in "The Ring". There is one horribly tasteless scene where Brody just realizes that his grandmother has died (no big secret, we can see it coming from a mile away) and then goes outside and seems to totally be cold to the fact that she is deceased, having a congenial conversatio with his neighbor and even considering a walk down the lane while the corpse of his grandmother rots in the house behind him.

As a leading man, Adam Brody has this dorky, adorable thing going for him - 'adorkable' is the word that has been used to describe him. It's almost a Woody Allen kind of charm, and Brody uses it to his advantage. It worked for her well on "The O.C." as the comic book geek Seth Cohen, but it only goes so far and it eventually becomes a little pathetic, as when Carter goes to a high school party and is beaten up by the school jock. In one of her first roles in a while, Meg Ryan does what she can with a poorly written character - the typical housewife going through the mid-life crisis. Ryan has some decent scenes in the film dealing with her breast cancer, but it's nothing that is going to win her any awards - maybe if the overall film was better. Olympia Dukakis steals the show as Carter's grandmother, but even her character is over-the-top and gets a little tired after a while. She is the equivalent of 'The Cat Lady' from "The Simpsons", with a Jewish accent. I would say, on the whole, that JoBeth Williams is probably given the best character in the entire film, and we only see her for one scene. She gets a developed character; either that, or she's just such a good actress that she turns a crappy character into someone well developed. I wish the rest of the cast had her same zeal for the craft. The rest of the performances are nothing more than very little.

If you haven't guessed it already, I really didn't care for "In the Land of Women". I love when sons follow in the footsteps of their fathers - I get a charge out of that. Jake Kasdan has followed well, but it doesn't look like Jonathan received those particular genes from dear old dad. Maybe his next film, and the one after that, will be leaps and bounds better than "In the Land of Women", and maybe he will prove me wrong and go on to win numerous awards and accolades. But, if he keeps making films like this one, I can guarantee that will never happen. We already have a film exactly like this and it's called "Garden State" and it was much better than this one. Maybe Adam Brody was trying to evoke Zach Braff - felt to me like he was trying to evoke Arye Gross. "In the Land of Women" is short on laughs, short on tears and short on everything except quirky delivery. It is not one of the worst films of the year, but it is close. At its heart, I think it means well and I think Jonathan Kasdan really tried to make something memorable, he just fell short. Everyone falls short now and again - but when it's your first film, it might also mean that it's your last.

4/10.
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