Should you visit the fictional land of women writer-director Jonathan Kasdan
-- the second movie-directing son of Big Chill director Lawrence Kasdan -- has imagined?
That depends. Do you go to the movies to escape your own problems or do you pay to absorb the dour hardships of others? Land offers a near-two-hour marathon of phony soul-searching by suburban caricatures set to a grating soundtrack of the latest Starbucks-approved pop songs. Interested parties, the ticket line forms to the left. Article continues below
The problem, for me, is that I never felt compelled to care for the superficial beings plodding through Land. Our tour guide is Carter (Adam Brody
), a California hipster who earns a buck writing scripts for softcore porn movies -- that offbeat scenario should have led to funnier jokes but never does. When his mom (JoBeth Williams) confesses that grandma Phyllis (Olympia Dukakis
) is ill, Carter jets to Michigan... not to sit by nana's bedside but because he thinks the free time will finally allow him to write that meaningful life-inspired screenplay he has nursed for more than a decade.
Carter barely unpacks before he is caught up in the lives of Phyllis' neighbors, the Hardwickes. I know Hollywood executives assume everyone in Middle America talks openly with their neighbors, but it's ridiculous how quickly mom Sarah (Meg Ryan
) and daughters Lucy (Kristen Stewart
) and Paige (Makenzie Vega
) open up to this stranger. Parish priests have a harder time coaxing confessions from penitent folk than Carter does luring deep, dark secrets from these open-faced suburbanites.
Land isn't without merit. Brody is a likeable actor. Unfortunately, he knows it. Still, he spices up a few scenes before Kasdan's overly analytical screenplay catapults these self-aware actors into another crippling monologue.
Kasdan writes in a way he assumes people talk, but really don't. Similar criticism was leveled at Brody's last television project, The O.C. Everyone on that show spoke as if they were 30 years older than their actual age, and I was reminded of that constantly with Land. As a movie, it has a supreme case of navel-gazing, and that rarely translates well to the screen.