MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN (15)

MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN (15)

Run time: 119mins

Director: Jason Reitman

Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Kaitlyn Dever, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ansel Elgort, Judy Greer, Olivia Crocicchia, Ansel Elgort, Dean Norris, Elena Kampouris, Emma Thompson (narrator)

Synopsis: The film follows a group of high school students and their parents, highlighting the impact that digital technology and social media has on their lives. As each character and

each relationship is tested, the variety of roads people choose is explored – some tragic, some hopeful – as it becomes clear that no one is immune from this enormous

social change that has come through our phones, our tablets, and our computers.

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In a recent radio interview, Director Jason Reitman said that he enjoys making ‘tongue in cheek’ films about contemporary problems.  His back catalogue includes Thank You for Smoking (2005), Juno (2007) Up in the Air (2009) which looked at and satirised the tobacco industry, teen pregnancy and the recession.  His new film looks at the internet, and how digital devices invented to aid communication can obscure and even make it more garbled.  The problems within marital, generational and peer relationships are amplified and subject to what has been defined as ‘continual partial attention’.

In Men, Women and Children – based on the novel by Chad Kultgen – there is a teen love story (Ansel Elgort and Kaitlyn Dever); a marriage on the rocks (Adam Sandler and Rosemarie DeWitt); a draconian and stifling mother trying to control her daughter (Jennifer Garner) ; a single parent trying to live vicariously through her daughter (Judy Greer and Olivia Crocicchia); another trying to connect with a video-game addicted son (Dean Norris and Ansel Elgort) and a naïve teenage girl with severe body dysmorphia (Elena Kampouris).  Add cyber bullying and porn addiction to the above brew and the result is a timely, cautionary narrative about communication breakdowns and irresponsible behaviour online.

There are some good performances from the film’s large ensemble cast, with a topping and tailing of quotes from Carl Sagan, narrated by the redoubtable Emma Thompson, about the Voyager universal messages that could potentially be understood by extra-terrestrial intelligence that might find them. Overall however, the film doesn’t communicate as effectively on its subject as Beeban Kidron’s documentary InRealLife (2013)

Images courtesy of Paramount

 

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