Jason Reitman is one of my favorite directors. His Juno and Up in the Air remain some of my favorite films of all times. When I heard that he is directing the likes of Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner in his next I couldn’t be more excited. His latest, Men Women & Children deals with teenagers and their parents getting hold of their relationships in today’s digital world. Based on a novel by Chad Kultgen it has a range of intervening stories, all dealing with that same issue.
Don (Adam Sandler) and Helen Truby (Rosemarie DeWitt) frustrated of their love life start to have extra-marital affair, while their son Chris (Travis Tope) deals with extreme porn addiction. Chris’ girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia) wants to be famous and is dropped after being selected for a reality show because the producers discover the inappropriate pictures taken by her mother posted online. Her mother Donna Clint (Judy Green) starts a relationship with Kent Monney (Dean Norris) a divorcee, lives with his only son Tim Monney (Ansel Elgort). Tim after his parent’s divorce quits football and is in a relationship with Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever) who hides her secret Tumblr account from her mother, Patricia (Jennifer Garner). Patricia an over-protective mother monitors everything her daughter does. From reading her text messages to proof reading and deleting her Facebook messages. The saddest story is perhaps of Allison Doss (Elena Kampouris) who’s under a lot of peer-pressure along with low self-esteem and body image issues. She sleeps with a guy who couldn’t care less about her. Later she has a miscarriage due to anorexia after extreme dieting following the advice of her chat room buddies, “Eat celery while smelling her Shepherd’s Pie.”
A range of different characters made the film more interesting for me. Every character in the film feels like technology be it internet or phones can solve their problem. But the sad thing is that no one seems to realize the implications it can have. Tim reluctantly tells his online game friends that his mother is getting married again, hoping to get some sympathy but only gets insults and crude jokes targeted at his mother thrown his way. You would think that turning off phone is an option, but you cannot bury your head and hope no one sees you. Everyone is looking for sanctuary in the world of technology, when what they really need is human interaction.
Every character faces their own conflict. All the conflicts from eating disorders to depression are portrayed as real as possible, which is why the impact of the film is powerful. Its gut-wrenching seeing Allison on the hospital bed post her miscarriage. One of the more haunting scene is when Helen is confesses to Don about her affair and instead of getting mad, he tells her he can either tell her what he has done or they both can just let it go. The things that is upsetting is perhaps that only the negatives of technology is portrayed in the film. Technology, like anything has it pros and cons. Everyone has secrets and insecurities and no one talks about it, throw technology into the mix and its a whole new thing.
Adam Sandler out of all the cast is a stand out for me, for portraying a cheating husband so effectively. In fact there is not one performance that isn’t brilliant, all-star cast but on an all impressive show. I was surprised to see all the negative review against the film. Reitman has done exceptionally well in portraying these real and sometimes frightening scenarios on screen. It’s an endearing film that does deserve a watch. It wont make you laugh instead will make you think and question a lot of things.
We should learn from this film, not discourage it. Like I said, Why all the hate?