Is it too early to call for a moratorium on earnest comedy-dramas about overly sensitive, hyper-verbal young men working through emotional crises by having deep, meaningful conversations with manic pixie dream-girls? Jon Kasdan's In The Land Of Women is the latest entry in a curious subgenre that could be called "angstsploitation." These movies are essentially emotional porn, only instead of money shots, they traffic in graphic sensitivity, hardcore brooding, and explicit existential malaise. (See also: Elizabethtown, The Last Kiss, and Garden State.)
Before getting bogged down in ennui, Women gets off to a deceptively funny start that sends Adam Brody's lovesick softcore pornographer to the Midwest to recover from a broken heart and nourish his neglected muse. There, he begins uncertain flirtations with Meg Ryan, an unhappily married mother and wife facing down cancer and a midlife crisis, and with Ryan's pretty teenage daughter, Kristin Stewart. Olympia Dukakis lends deft support in the Ruth Gordon role of the crazy grandma whose senility is largely played for laughs.
Women boasts an appealing lead in Brody, but once his relationship with the temptresses next door is established, the film loses its sense of humor and mopes to a conclusion. Women is full of deep, meaningful conversations, but those kinds of talks are generally only deep and meaningful to the people doing the talking; to everyone else, it's just shrill whining. Ryan makes a strange leap from America's Sweetheart to somebody's depressed mom without losing her neurotic girlishness; it's jarring to see her playing the mother of a college-age hottie as if she were a ditsy eternal freshman geeked about finally finding a cute boy who totally understands her feelings. Women confirms that the only thing less enjoyable than enduring long, drawn-out conversations about feelings and relationships in real life is watching movies about people having long, drawn-out conversations about feelings and relationships. And stuff.