Fast-Paised review: 'In the Land of Women'

After his model girlfriend dumps him, Carter (Adam Brody of "The O.C.") leaves L.A. for Michigan to look after his grandma. There, he develops a bond with an unhappily married woman (Meg Ryan) and her teenager daughter (Kristen Stewart).

Big question: Can Brody make it as a movie star, rather than a goofy sidekick?

Catch it: While packed with too-easy turning points and a persistent need to talk everything out, "In the Land of Women" manages to appreciate the boldness and the beauty of women without getting too girly about it. Brody's got geeky charisma to spare, and Ryan turns in a courageous performance in an underwritten part.

Skip it: If you think soft-core porn movies are original and character-driven. As Carter learns, plot doesn't seem to be the filmmakers' chief concern.

Bottom line: The movie tries to have it both ways, mixing lighthearted, John Hughes-style romantic comedy with events that actually occur in the real world. Still, you have to like Carter, who, away from the chaos, the traffic and the Colin Farrells of L.A., alters a few women's lives while they throw a wrench into his.

Bonus: It's good to see that an actor with a goofy personality and fondness for indie music can still have some dramatic range. Watch your back, Zach Braff!

Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.


'In the Land of Women'

Written and directed by Jonathan Kasdan; photographed by Paul Cameron; edited by Carol Littleton; music by Stephen Trask; production design by Sandy Cochrane; produced by Steve Golin and David Kanter. A Warner Bros. Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:37. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for sexual content, thematic elements and language).

Carter Webb - Adam Brody

Lucy Hardwicke - Kristen Stewart

Sarah Hardwicke - Meg Ryan

Phyllis - Olympia Dukakis

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