Variety‘s Courtney Howard and The Hollywood Reporter‘s Frank Scheck have reviewed Meg Ryan‘s What Happens Later (Bleecker Street, 11.3), an older person’s romcom set in a snowbound airport, and based upon Steven Dietz’s play Shooting Star.

Apart from noting that it’s a two-hander and agreeing upon the magical realist atmosphere, the disparity of opinion is startling.

Scheck: “Not so much a romcom as a comic drama infused with strong doses of magic realism that some viewers will find charming and others insufferably twee. What might have proved effective theatrically comes across as wholly artificial and schematic onscreen, despite Ryan’s considerable efforts as both director and performer. The proceedings inevitably feel claustrophobic. While Ryan’s bountiful charm is as evident as ever, her character unfortunately comes across like an older version of the manic pixie dream girl. And the movie’s heavy-handed magical realist elements counter the slightness of the material to deadly effect.

Howard: “Meg Ryan not only dazzles before the camera in What Happens Later, but behind it as well, as director and co-writer. Through the prism of one former couple’s relationship woes, this effervescent, enlightened romantic comedy explores our innate need for reconciliation within ourselves and with each other. It’s a delight to welcome Ryan back to the silver screen after an extended hiatus, and in the genre she helped rejuvenate alongside filmmakers like Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron (to whom this film is touchingly dedicated).”

I haven’t seen What Happens Later, but Howard’s use of the term “touchingly dedicated” almost certainly indicates bias. She’s in the tank for romcoms, I suspect, and loves the idea of Ryan making one of her own.

There’s also Mick LaSalle’s delighted take.