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In the Land of Women
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while it's been marketed as a teen-centric romance, the movie includes some heavy subject matter. Teen girls will want to see this drama thanks to star Adam Brody -- aka Seth from The O.C. -- but his character here isn't a teenager; instead, he's a man with women issues. A central character has cancer, and its onset affects her entire family. Plus, a teenage girl smokes, drinks, and has a combative relationship with her mother, and a sometimes-senile grandmother believes she's on the verge of death. There are a few passionate kisses, and the protagonist's job as an erotic-film writer is mentioned throughout the film.
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What's the story?
Carter, a Los Angeles writer who pens soft-core porn scripts who has just been dumped by his gorgeous girlfriend (sexily accented Spanish starlet Elena Anaya), decides to recover by visiting his healthy-but-nonetheless-ready-to-die grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) in the Detroit suburbs. Carter strikes up a friendship with his grandmother's neighbor Sarah (Meg Ryan) -- the kind of cardigans-and-cargo-pants-wearing stay-at-home mom whose house looks like a Crate and Barrel catalog – and her daughter, Lucy. As he gets to know Lucy, her steely veneer of teen angst (she paints when she's "freaked out") gives way to a fraught confession of just why she's perpetually angry at her mom. And, naturally, both mother and daughter crush on Carter, lending the film even more teen-opera drama.
Is it any good?
IN THE LAND OF WOMEN is exactly the kind of well-acted -- albeit formulaic -- "chick flick" that a mother and teen daughter would equally enjoy. The predictable plot is the stuff of movies of the week, but thanks to the winning charm of the actors involved, it's emotionally satisfying to watch Carter help these women mend their broken relationships and overcome their self doubt.
To O.C. devotees, Adam Brody will forever be fast-talking, lanky-limbed, high-strung Seth Cohen. Writer-director Jonathan Kasdan (one of Lawrence Kasdan's two showbiz-savvy sons) plays up Brody's inherent Seth-ness in the role of Carter Webb, the kind of sensitive, witty soul to whom women want to bare their soul -- and eventually their hearts.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about women's roles and mother-child relationships. Does being a stay-at-home mom make a woman worthless, without anything to show for her life? Why does Lucy perceive her mom as a failure and a fake, and how does Carter challenge Lucy to change her perspective? How does the media depict housewives? Is this film an accurate portrayal? Families can also discuss the difference between Sarah's relationship with her two daughters and how Carter helps the women around him feel better about themselves.
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