Review: Men, Women & Children
You know this is going to be a serious film. From his past work with Up In The Air and Thank You For Smoking, you know Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children is going to give you some tough stuff to think about.
You also know this is supposed to be about how the internet has affected us. It’s a big subject, so I’m expecting big results. Or at least something beyond what I know already. I mean, If I needed to know anything, I could Google it.
We were off on a slow start as the film introduced each of the characters we’ll be exploring. There’s a British narrator that makes you feel like you’re watching a 5th Grade Science class and you think “okay, let’s get ready to learn something.”
But here’s the thing – there isn’t anything you don’t know about the internet, and if there ever was – you’d be able to find out by using said Internet. So we get to see the messages being sent from one character to the other while they don’t actually interact on-screen. That’s a cool way to showcase the lack of human interaction we’re experiencing.
But besides this quirky POV element, there’s not much depth to this film. We know what we’re going to uncover, but there’s no fundamental “aha” moment or any desire for anyone to do anything. It’s just an FYI movie. If that was the point, fantastic. Although I’d hope there were deeper intentions that that.
I think it’s like some sort of trend to display all of these quite normal and extremely real stories about our own lives on the big screen. Sure you get a glimpse into the lives of a couple teenagers reveals nothing new – and yet while it’s being observed with the finest microscope, you still just kind of watch it all unfold.
Naturally, the Internet opens the doorway to adultery, obsession and addiction. No one denies this claim. We’re playing with online dating sites (Ashley Madison, obviously) pornography and Guild Wars (for everyone over 35, no that’s not on Nintendo). I’m bored already.
But what bothered me was I got pretty overwhelmed with the amount of stories we were following (I think it’s seven). Maybe that’s the point – we’re receiving a multitude of content about our sort of acquainted friends. But I don’t want to give too much credit for my own desire to formulate reasons behind things. Let’s not get carried away.
There’s only one tipping point where Adam Sandler throws in the most insight you’ll ever hear, and it’s so subtle you barely even notice it – we can sit and talk about everything we’ve done, or we can just choose not to bother. I wish they explored this further. How the internet has made us passive would be something worth exploring.
Instead it’s just a bunch of normal lives played out to an extreme. But really, these pictures are so stereotypical you kind of don’t even care what happens. I wonder if it’s hard for celebrities to act like a normal person – because Jennifer Garner, Rosie DeWitt and Adam Sandler just make themselves so terribly un-relatable no matter how relatable their characters actually are.
If anything, the teenagers really steal the show. Ansel Elgort, Kaitlyn Dever and Olivia Crocicchia have the squirmy, insecure, confused and utterly obviously thing down pact. This will give some parents some goosebumps – too bad there were too many crumbling relationships in your face to really focus or connect with any one of them.
Men, women and children. The internet. Adam Sandler. That’s what you get, and not a lot more.