UK Release Date: 5th December 2014
Runtime: 120 minutes
Director: Jason Reitman
Writer: Jason Reitman, Erin Cressida Wilson
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Rosemarie DeWitt, Adam Sandler, Ansel Elgort, Emma Thompson, JK Simmons, Olivia Crocicchia, Kaitlyn Dever
Synopsis: A tale of technology and how it affects the way people live and interact in the modern era.
Technology is now an integral part of our lives. It often seems that every aspect of our existence is documented via social media and we conduct our interactions through the prism of a mobile phone screen. At least, that’s the premise of Jason Reitman’s hokey, scaremongering drama Men, Women and Children.
The film follows multiple storylines, documenting humanity’s relationship with technology. One story follows Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt) and Don (Adam Sandler) as they use technology to spice up their ailing sex lives, whilst another follows Patricia (Jennifer Garner) as she takes drastic and draconian online safety measures to protect her daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) when she begins to chat with loner Tim (Ansel Elgort).
The central crime of Men, Women and Children is that Jason Reitman utterly fails to find a way to make online interaction cinematic. There’s a certain charm to scrolling news feeds and pop-up message bubbles initially, but these quickly begin to wear thin and are no substance for genuine interaction in a film that stretches to a seemingly endless two hours.
| "I think, if I disappeared tomorrow, the universe wouldn’t really notice."
It doesn’t help that Jason Reitman seems to be condemning people for failing to understand something that he too has no earthly clue about. Men, Women and Children rails against internet ignorance, whilst showcasing a blatantly naive view of that world. In Reitman’s blogosphere, everyone is either looking for extra-marital sex, nursing a body image problem or concealing something from their parents.
The script is a mess of clichés about the internet that Panorama was making documentaries about a decade ago. None of the characters, least of all Jennifer Garner’s security-obsessed mother, act in a manner that is even close to how humans genuinely interact. By the time her character’s naïveté results in near-tragedy, her character is a long way from redemption, even if the script wants us to believe in it.
The performances, too, complement the yawnsome script. Garner’s character is laughably overblown and interesting peripheral players like JK Simmons’ oblivious father are sidelined in favour of the jazzier portrayals. Ansel Elgort gets none of the character depth he was afforded in The Fault In Our Stars and Emma Thompson is handed the most boring voiceover in film history.
| "You don’t seem to understand how dangerous it is on there."
Men, Women and Children plods listlessly through the world of the internet, like Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror without the bite or self-awareness. It lacks any sense of the world it claims to depict and feels hopelessly dated, despite its supposedly modern trappings.
It says a lot about a film when Adam Sandler isn’t even one of the ten worst things about it.
Pop or Poop?
A surprisingly weak entry in Jason Reitman’s strong filmography, Men, Women and Children completely fails to portray technology-obsessed society.
The script is full of clunking dialogue, delivered by an ensemble of wooden performers, and Reitman’s direction fails to bring online chat to life.
This one probably should’ve buffered for a while longer; definitely a film for the block list.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.