Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
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In The Land Of Women tries to be a mixture of comedy, drama, and romance. But in reality, there's very little comedy and only a little bit of romance. It's basically one of those "coming of age" dramas, where someone finally grows up.
Adam Brody plays Carter, a 26 year old man who was just dumped by his girlfriend. Feeling a need to get away, he decides to leave L.A. for suburban Michigan, where he will go stay with his ailing grandmother. Once there, he develops a friendship with the family across the street, most notably with the mother Sarah (Meg Ryan) and the teenaged daughter Lucy (Kristen Stewart).
Mom and daughter are both going through some hard times, and Carter takes on a pseudo-counselor role, helping each of them to move forward. And, along the way, he matures and figures out what's important in his life.
The premise is OK, I guess. But I didn't believe most of the main characters. They were simply not realistic, so I couldn't really sympathize with them, or root for them.
Let's start with Carter. It's really nice that he decides to go help Grandma. I don't know how realistic that is, but it's a nice thing he's doing. And he does a great job with her - he's very patient, very caring, despite Grandma being quite difficult. But that's the problem - previously he's shown as nothing more than a shallow kid, so where did all of this patience suddenly come from?
I had the same problem when he started acting as therapist for the women across the street. It's as if all of a sudden this 26 year old became the wisest man on the planet. He shows both mother and daughter a level of wisdom that neither could have ever seen on their own. That's nice. But I just don't buy it, not from this particular 26 year old.
Then there's teenaged Lucy. She's a mixture of a few too many teenage stereotypes, to the point where she just comes off as cartoonish. On the one hand, she's supposed to be prudish, too shy to move forward in a developing relationship with the school's popular jock. OK, then why is she also shown eagerly hopping into backseats, smoking cigarettes, and clearly enjoying the attention of the popular guys? She's a mixture of personalities when it comes to her little sister, and her Mom, too. She's unbelievably patient and kind to her know-it-all little sister, but can't manage to give her mother a single break. Ever. I just didn't believe this role at all. Make her angry, or make her kind, but don't try to make her both, it simply doesn't work.
I will say that I enjoyed Meg Ryan's portrayal of Sarah. She's going through so much right now, yet she tries so hard to keep it together for the sake of her family. Between her loveless marriage, and her illness, she still manages to be there for her children. In fact, her ability to be a good Mom, makes her daughter's anger even more difficult to stomach; it just seems so undeserved.
Grandma was played beautifully by Olympia Dukakis. She's quite elderly, and definitely in need of help. I was happy she had her grandson there to help her, but I couldn't help but feel that he didn't spend enough time with her. Probably because he was so busy hanging out with the ladies across the street.
I would have preferred to have seen more of Sarah's husband. He's on screen for only a couple of minutes - it would have been nice to get to know him a little bit, and see if we can understand why he's doing what he's doing.
What about the romance angle? Well there's a twinge of it with Sarah and a one-sided twinge with Lucy. Nothing that goes very far, thank goodness. After all, Sarah is married, and Lucy's underage. So, luckily, those twinges were just that. Still, I'm sure they'll make some viewers uncomfortable.
Overall, this movie is just "OK", absolutely nothing special. It's the directorial debut of Jon Kasden, and, sadly, it comes off as someone's first effort. You're not missing a thing if you pass this one by.
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Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older