In the Land of Women Jon Kasdan

In the Land of Women Jon Kasdan
Jon Kasdan, son of Lawrence (Body Heat, The Big Chill) and brother of Jake (Orange County, Zero Effect), is no doubt living in the shadows of his family. So far he’s managed to build a decent résumé of television work, both as a writer and actor, and In the Land of Women marks his filmmaking debut as both writer and director. The film stars The O.C.’s Adam Brody as Carter Webb, a softcore porn screenwriter who has just been dumped by his rising star of an actress/model girlfriend. Devastated, he leaves Hollywood for suburban Michigan to look after his cantankerous grandmother (Olympia Dukakis). Across the street lives Sarah (Meg Ryan), a housewife currently juggling a bout with cancer, a cheating husband and two very different daughters. The oldest, Lucy (Panic Room’s Kristen Stewart), is a difficult teenager with a hate-on for her mother. The two women connect with Carter on different levels and the inevitable older/younger woman triangle happens right before your eyes. Before it ends though, Kasdan manages to tie up the loose ends with semi-pro closure that’s both believable and light-hearted enough to prevent most cynics programmed to abhor films like this from spinning their eyes. Judging by his credits to date — Dawson’s Creek, Freaks & Geeks — Kasdan appears to be stuck in a rut; he clearly hasn’t outgrown his longing for teenage romance and In the Land of Women can’t shake the incestuous romantic love fests that have been smeared all over network television. It’s all too familiar and at times, the dialogue borders on vomit-inducing. The same can be said for Brody, who hasn’t shed the Seth Cohen character that established him as an actor. Carter is merely an eight years later extension, facing more adult issues yet cracking the same sarcastic lines that made Brody a household name. Still, it’s hard for any fan of The O.C. to turn away from his first major role since the show’s finale. It’s a wise choice for him but he needs to move on and do something outside of his comfort zone. Meg Ryan, on the other hand, is still difficult to accept years after her cosmetic surgery. Her dramatic turn isn’t terrible but judging by this role, she’s evidently turning in her sexy charms and closing out her career as a mother figure — a real waste since she doesn’t look her age. Despite its many shortcomings, In the Land of Women doesn’t deserve the critical beating it’s likely going to receive. Then again, it’s also the sort of film where you get the sense that daddy pulled a few strings in order to get it made. (Warner)