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In the Land of Women (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Ordinarily this movie would not be my cup of tea. However, it is so well written and directed by Jonathan Kasdan that it makes up for the dubious plot.

Carter Webb (Adam Brody) is a 26 year old who is dumped by his girlfriend, Sofia BuŮuel (Elena Anaya) in the first scenes. Despondent, Carter, who is a screenwriter for softcore porn, leaves Hollywood to visit his grandmother, Phyllis (Olympia Dukakis) in Michigan. There he gets involved with her neighbors Sarah Hardwicke (Meg Ryan) and her daughters, teenager Lucy (Kristen Stewart) and the precocious 9-year-old Paige (Mackenzie Vega).

It does more than strain credulity that all these women almost immediately confide their deepest, darkest secrets in Carter. They tell him intimate stories they have told no one else. This is a guy they donít know from Adam (no pun intended), but they open up. And he proves to be a wonderful psychologist, with just the right advice for each, drawing, no doubt, from the years of experience he has gleaned through 26 years on the earth. Dubious as this seems, the film is well done and well-acted, enough so that I found it entertaining, even though I didnít buy it.

Two things I didnít enjoy, however. First is the simplistic stereotyping of Carterís grandmother as a senile old woman. There was no reason to make this octogenarian someone with handicapped reason, except to characterize all elderly people as goofy and unable to carry on an intelligent conversation. I despised Dukakisís character and the way she played her.

The other is the gratuitous smoking in which Carter and Lucy engage. I would think that the film industry had gotten over promoting smoking, but apparently not.

Yeah, itís a chick flick, even though itís mostly about Carter. But itís relatively entertaining with better-than-average acting. Meg Ryan can still give a good performance when she keeps her clothes on, even if the situation in which she finds herself strains credulity. Letís hope that in the future the talented Brody gets more believable roles.

April 20, 2007