Sitcom style makes this film forgettable

  • By Robert Horton / Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, April 19, 2007 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

A pair of directing brothers hit theaters this weekend. The Kasdan boys, sons of Hollywood director Lawrence Kasdan, both have features in release: Jake’s “The TV Set” (Page 11) and Jonathan’s “In the Land of Women.”

It’s just an accident of scheduling, but one can’t help compare the siblings. “The TV Set” is a funny film from a Hollywood insider, while “In the Land of Women,” well, looks like the kind of thing made by somebody with a famous last name.

Although it offers a few good one-liners, “In the Land of Women” feels like a warmed-over update of “Garden State.” This is the land of Carter Webb (Adam Brody), who gets dumped by his girlfriend in the opening scene.

Retreating to his grandmother’s house in suburban Michigan, Carter plans to get some real writing done (right now he’s penning soft-core porn screenplays). But distractions await.

First off, grandma (Olympia Dukakis) is a bit dotty. Then there’s the attractive high-school girl (Kristen Stewart) and her equally attractive mom (Meg Ryan) in the house across the street. Both take a shine to Carter.

If the outline of “The Graduate” seems to be looming somewhere behind this set-up, don’t worry- this movie doesn’t have the nerve to go there. Carter might flirt with both women, and dole out sensitive hugs, but nothing here cuts deeper than a heartwarming TV commercial.

At first – especially in an expertly played breakup scene – it looks as though the casting of Adam Brody might make the movie watchable. Brody, the rising star from “The O.C.”, has his first leading movie role here, and his combination of sarcasm and sincerity is promising.

Kristen Stewart, lately memorable in “Zathura,” is also fine. But the script quickly bogs down in bland observations, and the film is cut together like a coming-attractions trailer for a heart-tugging Lifetime movie-of-the-week.

Meg Ryan, recently a rare presence in movies, is looking increasingly like Melanie Griffith these days. Ryan has always been more interesting than her cutie-pie image, but this is not the movie to change that image. This is a movie to forget.

Kristen Stewart, Adam Brody and Makenzie Vega in “In the Land of Women.”

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