This movie follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-images, and their love lives. This movie attempts to stare down social issues such as video game culture, anorexia, infidelity, fame hunting, and the proliferation of illicit material on the internet. As each character and each relationship is tested, we are shown the variety of roads people choose - some tragic, some hopeful - as it becomes clear that no one is immune to this enormous social change that has come through our phones, our tablets, and our computers.Written by
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I just wanna know... what you'd like in your eggs.
Don, we need to talk about this. I've made mistakes.
So have I. Oh yeah, so have I. Probably worse than you. I don't know, Helen. That's just it.
That's just... what's just it?
Well, we could sit here and tell each other everything we've ever done. Shit, everything we've ever thought. It might take a while. But yeah, we could clear everything up and go to sleep tonight with some pretty vivid pictures in our heads. Or you could just tell me what you...
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Pygmy Girls Initiation Song
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A tiny bit sexy, a smidge funny, often good, very unnerving but heavy-handed.
It's very easy to get carried away by Men, Women & Children. From Emma Thompson's sincere, opening narration of doom and foreboding we are led to believe we are in for an emotional ride that will open our eyes, drop our jaws and force us to reassess our obsession with mobile phones, technology and social media.
But step back to consider for a moment after the event and we see Jason Reitman has delivered just a very simple, clear message: Internet bad, parents worse. Men, Women & Children is an affecting and engaging film, but it doesn't really tell the truth and opts instead for shock and disgust over reason and discussion. Sometimes, though, we do need to hear the worst news in order to reevaluate.
Men, Women & Children is a dip into the world of a group of high school teenagers, their families, their relationships and their angst played out through texts, Facebook, Twitter and every other online forum that offers as much privacy as a damp tissue over the nether regions in a hurricane. Beyond, or perhaps central to, the teenagers' own problems are those of their parents and, no matter how bad it is for the kids, the adults are in a far deeper quagmire of their own making.
The principal subject matter of Men, Women & Children is the danger of social media but Reitman merely uses it as a spoon to stir a thick, coagulating mixture of isolation, self-obsession, anorexia, infidelity, lust, pornography, mental health, bereavement, divorce, anger, abandonment, oppression and a hint of rape. Ouch! So much subject matter in so little time? That just about sums it up.
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.
Billed as a comedy drama, there is little to laugh at in Men, Women & Children. It is a film of extremes that shows the worst of our fears and depicts the darkest of our social media nightmares and you'll need to step back a bit and realize that the world isn't quite this bad (is it?). 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.
Men, Women & Children is a tiny bit sexy, a smidgen funny, often good, very unnerving and frequently thought provoking but it isn't necessarily entirely accurate and it certainly couldn't be accused of being understated.
Adam Sandler is more restrained than we have seen him for a good long while as Don, one half of a bored, unloved married couple. On the flip side, Jennifer Garner is so extreme, so, um, psychotic as the overbearing, paranoid, dictatorial Patricia that you hope Quentin Tarantino is going to appear as a guest director in the final third and wipe her out in a glorious hail of gunfire and swishing Samurai swords. Needless to say, that is not on the cards.
There is actually plenty to enjoy about Men, Women & Children in spite of the heavy-handed delivery. While the adults are busy screwing up their own live and the lives of their children, Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Tim (Ansel Elgort) are quietly, imperfectly attempting to find their own paths through the emotional mayhem. After trying too hard and missing much of the time in The Fault in Our Stars, Elgort brings some much-needed calm and thoughtfulness to the table and the friendship between Tim and Brandy is the calmest but most powerful aspect of Men, Women & Children.
Men, Women & Children could have done with being filtered to make a greater impact but Reitman has shunned subtlety; why be suggestive when you can make your point with a sledgehammer? Be warned, be concerned, be aware, but don't live in fear of your teenagers and Reitman's prediction that their world is going to hell in a handcart.
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