Men, Women & Children
A Life Lived Through Social Media
Director Jason Reitman started his career off strong with some movies that were able tackle topical issues (the tobacco industry, teenage pregnancy, unemployment) while still serving as great entertainment. But after Thank You For Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air, while the topical issues are still present, the entertainment value has decreased. His newest movie, Men, Women & Children tackles social media. It’s full of interesting ideas, but it’s just not very fun to watch.
The ensemble cast includes Adam Sandler—in full dramatic mode—and Rosemarie DeWitt as a couple whose marriage has grown stale. Judy Greer plays a mother who goes to excessive lengths in an effort to help her daughter become the celebrity that she once hoped to be. Jennifer Garner is an over-protective mother who spends most of her days reading her daughter’s texts and Facebook posts. Leading the younger actors is Ansel Elgort, who plays a football star that gives up the sport after a YouTube video leads him to the conclusion that the sport is pointless in the grand scheme of life; yet he still spends most of his days and nights plugged into his favorite computer game.
The lives of all of these characters intersect in a small Texas town. Their lives are all dominated by the digital world around them. Nearly every character is constantly on their Smartphone, texting, Facebooking, and chatting with friends who may be just down the hallway. The movie focuses largely on how each of the individual relationships are directly effected by social media, mostly in negative ways.
The biggest problem with Men, Women & Children is that it doesn’t really seem to take any chances. The movie reaches toward barriers and taps on them, but it never really tries to break through. None of the movie’s multiple plotlines go off in a direction that we weren’t expecting. Even the movie’s final big dramatic moment fails to pay off because it is very easy for the audience to see it coming.
The movie looked at the outset like it might go somewhere, but then it just falls flat. The result is a movie that never really gets interesting and feels much longer than its 119 minute runtime.
The actors in the ensemble cast all serve the plot well, but none of the characters they play do anything truly shocking or unexpected, with the possible exception of Jennifer Garner’s overprotective mom.
The heart of the film is the relationship between Elgort’s Tim and Kaitlyn Dever, who plays Jennifer Garner’s daughter Brandy. Somehow, these two are able to find each other amidst all the digital barriers, but it’s hard to form a relationship when your mom blocks all your texts.
Men, Women & Children is not necessarily a bad movie, but it’s not a good one either. Despite its promise of providing a revealing look into our modern social media-led society, it fails to deliver on any of it. The lack of entertainment value and content that will be unappealing to many make this a movie that I just cannot recommend.
Men, Women & Children is rated R for “strong sexual content including graphic dialogue throughout-some involving teens, and for language.” There is a lot of sexual content in this movie which definitely warrants the rating.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Men, Women & Children.