Friday, April 27, 2007

My good friend, former roommate, and Best Man at my wedding brings you a colorful review of In The Land Of Women. Let's just say he wasn't a fan:

In The Land of Women:

My wife and I walked out. With only 30 minutes left. But we couldn't take it anymore. Now, I didn't see the end, but I can give you my feelings on this film from what I saw. And, it should be noted, this film was so lame I could probably tell you exactly how it ends without having seen it. There's nothing worse than seeing a truly terrible film. It's like someone farting two inches from your face...and you paid them to do it. There really should be signs at theaters that say: "Hey, you should just catch this one on DVD, if at all."

There are two types of bad films. Well, maybe three. 1) The bizarre student/art film where there is no story, images are abstract and characters moan things like, "Oh, life is sad, look at my penis." This line is then followed by lots of gratuitous nudity. 2) The film in which the filmmakers know at some level what they are making is absolute drivel, but they have a fun time with it and make it with gusto. These are films like "Plan 9 from Outer Space" that usually go on to become cult classics at some level. 3) Then there is the film that is oblivious to its own awfulness. The film made with the passion of a director or writer or director/writer who has wanted to make this film since he was 14, and the shooting script is still that first draft he wrote in 9th grade. "In the Land of Women" is this third type.

Told in a random series of events in the life of "Carter," played by Adam Brody, ITLOW plays out in movie-of-the-week fashion, only worse. Carter is a mid-twenties soft-core porn writer who really wants to write something meaningful, but bangs out--pardon the pun--crappy material because its a steady paycheck. (Why do first-time writers always write about writers who want to write?) When his rising Hollywood starlet girlfriend dumps him in the opening scene, he mopes to his mother's house. She's crying because her own mother is sick. Carter announces he will go to Michigan to take care of grandma. It'll be good to get away from L.A., he says, it'll help him be more creative. Too bad Michigan looks like Beverly Hills.

Then the film plunges into the depth of clich├ęs, unmotivated actions, and just plain old bad acting. I will now give you a play-by-play written as poorly as the film. Carter meets Grandma, who can't quite remember him. Carter cleans up grandma's house. Carter meets mom across the street. Meg Ryan plays mom in a phoned-in performance. Carter goes on walks with Meg, just to talk. Carter meets Meg's under-age daughter. Meg tells under-age daughter to take Carter to the movies so he won't be so alone over at that crazy lady's house. Carter runs into friend of under-age daughter's boyfriend at the mall. Oh no, Meg's husband is having an affair! Oh no, under-age daughter's boyfriend breaks up with her because she's been seen with Carter although under-age daughter fools herself by saying it's because she's not ready to kiss him. Carter tries to write something worth writing. It's raining! Carter goes outside! There's Meg, standing in the rain waiting to go on another walk. Oh no, she has cancer! She kisses Carter. It's awkward Carter goes to a party with under-age daughter even though her old boyfriend will be there. "You'll be a rock star," Cutter says, "People will respect your strength in showing up." Cutter discovers the house he's at is the house of his own mother's former boyfriend. (I'm still trying to understand the point of that little nugget...) Under-age daughter's old boyfriend throws a beer on Carter and tells him they must take their grudge outside.

Once they are outside, Boyfriend states, with absolute sincerity: "How did you think you could come up in my hood, steal my girl and we not be scrappin'?"

It was time to leave.

I haven't seen the ending, but I guarantee you here's exactly how it ends. Carter gets a kiss from Under-Age daughter for taking a punch for her. He tells her, whoa, baby you're a little too young for me, but you'll find someone. Grandma probably dies. Meg has cancer, but will be okay and patch things up with her husband and daughter. Or, at least confront them. Hollywood girlfriend will call or try to reach Carter before the end to patch things up. He'll tell her no, we weren't meant to be together. He'll say bye to everyone, and leave knowing that there is a woman out there for him just not here "In The Land Of Women." Oh, and these experiences will now give him something meaningful to write about. Fade to Black, and roll credits with a song from Zach Braff's iPod. (Please, let me know how close I am to the actual ending!)

Couple of quick points before I leave you. This film was written/directed by the son of Lawrence Kasdan, the man responsible for two of the greatest films of the second half of the 20th century: "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." If this was your father, and you were making a feature film debut, it might behoove you to pass the script along to dad to see if he has any pointers on writing. Second the world has shifted in the wrong direction when a film starring Meg Ryan, Olympia Dukakis, and Adam Brody unspools, and you realize Brody is the best thing in the movie. Under no circumstances should you have a character look at pictures of a man hanging out with friends, hunting with buddies then declare: "This guy is an a**hole." It's lazy, have him meet the guy let the audience see what a jerk he is. And finally, and I know some of you will think this is a low blow, but Meg Ryan has really ruined her face. It was unbearable to watch. Her collagenated lips are in a constant fish-pout, and any emotion she tries to elicit has to punch its way through the plastic of her new face. I'm sad that even if you are America's Sweetheart, you don't have enough self-esteem to age with grace and dignity. Ugh. I know this doesn't have anything to do with the film, but when she kissed Adam Brody, I couldn't help thinking: I bet that's what it's like to kiss a tube of Chap Stick.

-Jonathan Grubbs



BTW: I saw the movie way back in August/September of last year. Jeri & I didn't hate it, but it sounds like it's changed some. I know there wasn't anything about Brody's Mother's Ex-Boyfriend, and I think the line from the fight was different.
But from what I remember, that's pretty much how the flim ends.

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