Men, Women, Children
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Judy Greer, Dean Norris, Kaitlyn Dever, Ansel Elgort, Olivia Crocicchia, and Emma Thompson
By Monte Yazzie of The Coda Films
The typical morning term of endearment from my wife has a different affect on me when I hear her say it than when I read it in a text. Technology has changed the way that we communicate, it has changed the way we express emotions, and it is changing the way reality is perceived. There is a world of people who have a better understanding of themselves through the technology that enables their personality than they do in their daily lives. Director Jason Reitman approaches this technological dilemma with a heavy-handed deliberateness in the film “Men, Women, Children”.
The film focuses on a group of different people. A husband (Adam Sandler) and wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) who have grown apart, both self-satisfying their wants for something different with different people within the risqué websites of the Internet. An overly protective mother (Jennifer Garner) controls every digital fingerprint her teenage daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) makes, moving the teenager to sneak around to be with her boyfriend (Ansel Elgort). The popular girl (Olivia Crocicchia) in high school is looking for instant fame; with the help of her desperate mother (Judy Greer) she poses for “modeling” pictures for a website. These stories intertwine with one another; displaying the negative effects technology has on their lives.
The themes in “Men, Women, and Children” are all too familiar, some matters of debate on the nightly news and others so readily accustomed that we overlook them on a daily basis. Reitman tends to utilize the extremes of these matters for the bulk of the multiple plots developing in the story here. Unfortunately, the many different stories aren’t all similarly interesting, in fact a few are often forgotten about. The film functions on the surface as a cautionary tale but Reitman’s skill for keen character insights creates some discerning musings into the relationships formulated through technology but also the breakdown of relationships perpetrated by simple human nature. Reitman, who typically has a knack for the kind of subtlety that would transcend these underlying topics, paints the themes on a large display with flashing lights to direct the viewer where to look and, in some scenes, exactly how to feel. The underlying implications become forcefully one-dimensional; if it weren’t for the capabilities of the actors these flaws would be more obvious.
Reitman brings something worthwhile out of all the characters, especially good are Rosemarie DeWitt as the bored housewife who seeks the company of another man through a catered website. Her change from shy to aggressive calls into question which is genuine. Judy Greer is another standout as the blindly ambitious mother who sets up a website filled with inappropriate pictures of her daughter. There is a desperation that is present; a woman who missed her chance is living through her daughter. Adam Sandler has shown his ability, with films like “Punch Drunk Love” and “Reign Over Me”, at being more than just comedic, here he gives a performance that ranges from timid to comfortably numb.
“Men, Women, and Children” is trying to be profound while imposing a barrage of aggressive themes. This resonates in small amounts when the right characters and story arcs are on display. Unfortunately too many wheels begin to spin and confusion and repetition take over, making the multifaceted commentary lose track of the poignant ideas it attempts to suggest.
3.00 out of 5.00