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Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson

‘In the Land of Women’ features a post-O.C. Adam Brody falling for an older woman and her daughter

After 15 minutes of “In the Land of Women,” a couple of things are blatantly apparent: First, leading man Carter (Adam Brody, “The OC”) lives his life surrounded only by women. Second, “In the Land of Women” has many chances to become a cliché chick flick, but through witty writing and conscious plot choices, hovers above that sad, sappy genre.

“In the Land of Women”

STARRING: Adam Brody, Meg Ryan and Kristen Stewart
PLAYING AT: Area theaters

Carter, an aspiring L.A.-based writer who crafts softcore porn scripts to pay the bills, decides to get out of La-La Land and “find” himself after a horrifically ruthless dumping by his up-and-coming model girlfriend.

He figures that moving to Michigan to live with his grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) and her cat might just be the thing he needs to finish up his book about growing up in L.A. and do a little self-discovery.

But upon arrival at dear ol’ grandma’s house, Carter finds out the cat is dead, his grandma is off her rocker and, while his move took him physically away from the hurts of L.A., the distance from home doesn’t stop his heartache.

In this land of women, Carter meets Sarah (Meg Ryan), a middle-aged housewife in a loveless show marriage, and her angsty teen daughter Lucy (Kristen Stewart, “The Messengers”).

This is where first time writer-director Jon Kasdan, son of “The Big Chill” director Lawrence Kasdan, keeps “In the Land of Women” from falling into the land of horrible tween chick flicks.

Carter finds himself in a very “Graduate”-like quagmire: He’s romantically interested in both Sarah and her whiny, suburban-brat daughter. Before things get too “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me” with Sarah, she is taken away from the story by her struggles with breast cancer.

Hearing the teenyboppers in the theater bemoan Carter’s romantic scene with Sarah, and later cheer when he hooks up with Lucy is evidence that Kasdan was thinking of his audience and their reactions during his film’s creation.

Kasdan’s script is decent, and combines with strong acting to make the film worthwhile. Brody’s charm and skills make Carter lovable despite the fact that he is seducing a married woman and her underage daughter.

Meanwhile, Dukakis, who won a 1987 Oscar for supporting actress in “Moonstruck,” goes deeper into the stereotypical crazy old lady role to draw both belly laughs and compassion. She buries life lessons for her grandson under biting sarcastic comments, and balances her resentment of Carter’s doting presence with an appreciation for his help.

By the end of “In the Land of Women,” Carter is still stranded in a fictional world where he carries the only Y chromosome, but he’s learning from the females in his life and, finally, healing his heart.

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