Synopsis – A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives.
My Take – This film has been billed as comedy drama, but frankly there is little to laugh at here. This film shows the extreme darkest side of our social media nightmares and forces to step back & think – is the world so bad? . Reitman it makes plenty of valid points but he nails them firmly to your heart. I’d urge parents and those who live their lives through Facebook to see it, but regard it as a wake up call and not a factual reflection of your impending doom. The story follows quite some people here – Don (Adam Sandler) whose sexless marriage to Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt) finds him sneaking into his son’s room to feed his internet porn addiction, while his wife struggles with the temptation of using a cheating website to start an extramarital affair. Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia), a fame-obsessed cheerleader who force-feeds her sexuality to everyone around her in hopes of blazing a path to stardom, reality show star style. It doesn’t help that she’s enabled by her mom, Donna (Judy Greer), a failed actress who constantly snaps photos of her daughter for a curious modeling website that happens to include a private section reserved for paying members. Hannah has a thing for Chris (Travis Tope), Don’s football player son whose own internet porn habits would not only put his dad’s to shame, but have also left him unable to become aroused by anything but the images on his monitor. Most tragic and heartbreaking of all is Allison (Elena Kampouris), so desperate to catch the eye of her crush that she developed an eating disorder after overhearing him make a disparaging comment about her weight. Now pale and skinny, she maintains her figure by seeking support from an online forum dedicated to staying thin at any cost, offering such helpful hunger-battling hints such as “drink water and wait five minutes.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Patricia (Jennifer Garner), a suburban parent who redefines the term overprotective as she demands that daughter Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever) surrender her cell phone on a regular basis so that she can read her emails and text messages, in addition to poring over pages of chat logs and using a GPS locator app to monitor her daughter’s movements whenever she leaves the house. Patricia is convinced that she’s keeping Brandy safely out of harm’s way, yet remains oblivious to the fact that she’s stifling any chance of her having a normal teenage existence. And then there’s Tim (Ansel Elgort), a star running back who elected to quit the football team in favor of investing his time in online role-playing games. He’s much more content to form connections with other like-minded individuals in a virtual world, while growing increasingly distant from his father (Dean Norris), who continues to cope with the sudden departure of Tim’s mother the previous year, while all this is happening Tim & Brandy start developing an emotional romantic relationship. If that sounds like a lot to keep track of, you’re correct. As the film progresses, each character is faced with their own individual conflicts, while simultaneously crossing paths with other characters and creating new conflicts along the way. It’s not only gut- wrenching to see how commonplace cruelty has become in today’s digital world, but terrifying to see how broadly we can all be affected by it. Seemingly small decisions turn out to have major, far-reaching consequences, with actions affecting other characters in surprising ways. Writer/director Reitman has tried to shoehorn so much into his two hours of screen time that there is little opportunity to reflect. Indeed, as the final credits faded, I found myself sitting, static, trying to absorb the impact and information with which I had been bludgeoned.
Initially, I felt numbed by the subject matter although my overriding feeling was positive about the film itself. It is a worthy attempt to highlight a worrying trend in our society; I’m just not sure it was well executed. It’s a linear story from a big studio with an independent feel. Emotional fireworks are few in this movie. Some of the quieter moments feel the loudest. All of the actors did a proficient job. Adam Sandler was excellent, he is more restrained than we have seen him for a good long while. Ansel Elgort and Kaitlyn Dever had both breakout performances. Each of their characters plights will your break your heart, and leave you rooting for them. And most of all, Jennifer Garner was as good as I’ve seen her in years. She did such an incredible job to make me hate her character as much as I did. On the whole Men, Women and Children takes aim at the communication in this digital age, offering a sobering and uncomfortably accurate portrait of the way we connect – or rather, fail to connect – with each other when there’s a wealth of technology at our fingertips. They’re no groundbreaking original story here, but the film is often good, very unnerving and frequently thought provoking! Give it a watch.
Director – Jason Reitman
Rated – R
Run Time – 119 minutes