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Review: 'The M Word' gives menopause a bad name

By Robert Abele

8:30 AM EDT, April 30, 2014

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If, lo these many years after "Eating" and "Babyfever," you've longed for writer-director Henry Jaglom's patronizingly female-sensitive, talk-to-the-camera take on the subject of menopause, there now exists "The M Word." For all others, the "M" will stand for meandering, mirthless and meh.

The mostly repetitive and grim group therapy-style confessionals on the aging process, framed as part of a documentary being made by a highly strung, love-crazed actress (Jaglom regular and acquired taste Tanna Frederick), are awkwardly jammed into the story of a financially struggling Los Angeles TV station. In a childishly plotted attempt at thematic synergy, the station is undergoing its own "change of life" when a visiting parent company rep (Michael Imperioli) threatens upheaval, but the only truly bloated and irrational entity here is the movie itself.

Stubbornly back is Jaglom's fondness for conversational riffing and crosstalk, but his cast, which includes Corey Feldman, Gregory Harrison and Frances Fisher, seems particularly disinterested in having any of it feel logical or truthful. The real shame is that somewhere in "The M Word" is a point about valuing the institutional memory of people — women, artists, worker bees — in our rapidly morphing culture. But Jaglom is too spiritually and cinematically lazy to do anything but evoke glib, artless solidarity, and let us know he's heard of Twitter and Facebook.

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'The M Word'

MPAA rating: R for language and sexual references

Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Playing: At Laemmle Royal, Los Angeles