No Need to Visit the "Land of Women"
- Friday, April 20, 2007
Release Date: April 20, 2007
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content, thematic elements and language)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Run Time: 97 min.
Director: Jon Kasdan
Actors: Adam Brody, Kristen Stewart, Meg Ryan, Olympia Dukakis, Makenzie Vega, Clark Gregg
Not since the Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston film “The Break-Up” have trailers for a movie been more misleading. From the Vaughn-Aniston previews last year, we were given the sense that the film would be a slapstick romantic comedy. As it turned out, although in some ways interesting, “The Break-Up” was neither particularly romantic, nor terribly funny.
We get the same bait and switch with TV trailers for “In the Land of Women.” The advertising tries to convince us that this is a fun little romantic comedy. It’s not. Rather it is a mostly depressing Lifetime-movie-of the-week story with all the brooding characters trying to “find themselves.”
We meet young Carter Webb (Adam Brody) as his gorgeous supermodel girlfriend is breaking up with him. The gloomy writer decides he needs a change of pace from his hip Los Angeles lifestyle and heads to Michigan to live with his shut-in grandmother Phyllis (Olympia Dukakis). Phyllis, who tells everyone she is dying when she’s not, seems to be slipping into senility and needs some looking after. At first it seems like this perceived selflessness is more about Carter’s journey to find himself than helping grandma. But Carter’s loving care for the aging grandmother he hardly knows is one of the most endearing elements of the film.
Soon after his arrival, Carter is befriended by Sarah Hardwicke (Meg Ryan), a stay-at-home mom from across the street. The lethargic Sarah, bored with her life, invites Carter along on her daily walks with the dog. Over the course of their times together Sarah shares with Carter the woes of her life: her husband (Clark Gregg) is having an affair, her teenage daughter Lucy (Kristen Stewart) doesn’t get along with her, she’s not sure if her life has any meaning, etc. etc. – all the typical movie problems of suburban women. An odd emotional bond develops between Carter and Sarah.
At the same time Sarah encourages Lucy to befriend Carter as well. Lucy, of course, thinks that’s “totally lame,” but eventually opens up to the neighborhood newcomer. So an emotional bond develops between them as well, as Carter advises Lucy on how to deal with her high school woes and her strained relationship with her mother. Strangely enough, no one tells Carter (until much later in the film) that doctors think Sarah may have breast cancer, and the family is dealing with that burden as well.
Thus, we are subject to long, aimless conversations as Carter and Sarah walk the dog, as Carter and Lucy hang out at the football field, and it all gets rather tedious as we watch these characters spend their days trying to figure out themselves and their problems. As Carter begins to become more and more involved with the family, he begins to develop some romantic feelings toward Sarah. At the same time, it’s clear that the troubled Lucy is beginning to develop feelings toward him. It all gets rather distasteful as we watch these inappropriate relationships grow. The film seems to tell us it is just fine that Carter and Sarah get so emotionally intimate. Her husband cheats on her, and her family doesn’t appreciate her and on and on. Although the audience can see from miles away where things are headed, everyone on the other side of the screen seems clueless.
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