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"In the Land of Women"
A Review by Gary Chew

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

The warm vibrations of "The Big Chill" ring through a new, sweet and gentle film titled, "In the Land of Women." Lawrence Kasdan's memorable "Chill" had Jobeth Williams in it. She's seen in a cameo at the start of this new film. Moreover, "Women" was written and directed by Kasdan's son, Jon, who was also in "The Big Chill." It's likely none of us will remember him, however. Jon Kasdan played the son of Kevin Kline (Harold) and Glenn Close (Sarah) in his dad's 1983 hit film. Having a successful producer/director for a father has probably aided the young Kasdan in his career as he has also written for the TV show "Freaks and Geeks," as well as playing in the TV series, "Dawson's Creek."

Meg Ryan

Along with its warmth, what brightens "In the Land of Women" is a film actress we're very familiar with: Meg Ryan. She's now 45 and slipping so beautifully into middle-age. Meg's character's name in "Women" is Sarah, the same as Glenn Close's in "Chill."

Young Kasdan's movie is also brightened even more with the stalwart Olympia Dukakis as the absent-minded yet blunt grandma. Adam Brody, best known now for appearing in the TV series, "The O.C.," plays Carter. He's a young L.A. writer who flees La La Land for a pleasant Detroit suburb to stay with his grandma and finish that serious piece of literature he's not gotten around to---yet. Oh yes, his lovely (model and actress) girl friend, Sofia , played by Elena Anaya, has just dumped him. The film opens with her giving Carter the "good" news.

Adam Brody and Kristen Stewart

Adam Brody and Kristen Stewart

Across continent and directly across the street from Carter's grandma's house live the Hardwickes. Ryan is the mom; Clark Gregg, the dad (whom we seldom see) and newcomer, Kristen Stewart ("Cold Creek Manor") is Lucy, the older daughter---definitely another illuminating element in this picture. Makenzie Vega ("Just My Luck") is the younger daughter, Paige, who might be a bit smarter than she ought to be for her age. You know the type: disarming, yet brutally honest.

By escaping the hurt of his L.A. lady break up, Carter finds himself up to his keyboard in the problems of three other females who need his advice and counsel: Sarah and her maladies; Lucy and her quarterback boyfriend problem; and grandma's hypochondria and disheveled home.

"In The Land of Women" is not as sitcom-ish as you might first guess with young Kasdan mirroring some of his dad's influence. Jon's direction and script show real sensitivity for a 27 year old guy, and his cast, as well, turn in some pretty genuine performances.

I would venture a guess that Kristen Stewart's face will be seen more and more. She is a striking young woman. I never caught her missing a beat to convince in her role as a teenaged daughter who suddenly finds herself angry with her mom about something she'd never expect in a million year to be angry about---and at a most stressful time in the Hardwicke family's life.

There's a bit of coarse talk, but not to the extreme. So I'd give mid-teens and older a pass to catch this very entertaining and thoughtful film from a young man who's bound to be back with more.

Opens April 20.
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Gary Chew can be reached at garychew@comcast.net
Copyright © 2007, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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