Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer
Release Date: October 1, 2014
If you've been living in a cave for the past decade or so, let me tell you about the biggest thing in the world - the internet. The original purpose for the internet was for researchers to exchange data between one another without needing to be physically next to each other. Today, exchanging data is only one of the thousands of things that can be done on the World Wide Web. The internet has revolutionized communication to the point where it would be almost alien to meet someone who hasn't used the internet, let alone on a daily basis, since it is accessible on your smart phone. The internet has millions of benefits for civilization but its greatest harm is what Jason Reitman's addresses in his film Men, Women & Children. This message alone makes Men, Women & Children a must watch for future parents, aging adolescents and anybody who uses the internet on a daily basis.
Jason Reitman's ensemble comedy-drama Men, Women & Children details the various ways social media and the internet has affected the relationships of a number of characters. Based on the novel of the same name by Chad Kultgen, the movie features Adam Sandler and Rosemarie DeWitt as a married couple who each use the internet to find lovers, Judy Greer as a failed actress who spends much of her time pushing her daughter's career through a website, and Jennifer Garner as a mother who takes every precaution to make sure she knows what her daughter does online.
"That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives." Men, Women & Children is framed around the concept from Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" and begins with our narrator (Emma Thompson) informing the viewers about Carl Sagan's Voyager 1 project which launched in 1977. The film starts off in space but is very grounded with the characters here on Earth.
Don (Adam Sandler) and Helen Truby (Rosemarie DeWitt) lay by each other in bed while playing a game on their own individual tablet, they have forgotten what it felt to be desired, and how intimacy feels between one another. This little night game on their tablet is the most intimate moment they cherish now. As a result of Tim Mooney's (Ansel Elgort
) mother walking out of his and his father's life, he dropped out of football despite being the star of his high school team. He then finds comfort in living in a virtual world in which all his current friends, that he has never met, live in as well. Allison Doss (Elena Kampouris
) is struggling with her inner-beauty and believes that not eating to lose weight is the best way to go, and users on a website entitled 'prettybitchesdonteat.com' help her along the way. Joan Clint, who failed in becoming an actress, now lives through her daughter, Hannah Clint (Olivia Crocicchia
), and publishes inappropriate pictures of her daughter on the internet for middle-aged men to buy in hopes that her daughter may become a successful actress one day. Lastly, Patricia Beltmeyer (Jennifer Garner) is making sure to the best of her ability that her daughter avoids exposure to the situations listed above.
As I stated earlier, the internet was meant to help make communication easier among people but ironically all the internet has done is harm communication. Reitman beautifully displays how communication happens via the internet in 2014. Communication in the film is via text message between individuals who are walking distance from each other, internet chat groups among strangers, or characters typing a paragraph filled with feelings and thoughts but is deleted as they send a mere emotionless sentence instead. It is a scary but perfect representation of the barrier that the internet has created for communication.
The film lacks a traditional narrative and Reitman uses each character to bounce off each other and curtains the viewers to their lives. Something Reitman never does, which I praise him for, is shed judgment on his characters as he tackles all these very sensitive topics with such grace and elegance. If done wrong, viewers could have easily been upset with the end result of each character. Each character does their best to justify their actions, not to the viewers, not to other characters but to themselves and every action Reitman shows his characters make is important and plays as an important tool to the character's development even when we disagree with them.
This isn't a happy go lucky film, it actually can be quite depressing, especially when you begin to hear sniffling throughout the theater. But this film is very important to this generation and generations to come as long as the internet plays this huge role in everybody's day-to-day lives. It is a film I will for sure show my future children as I introduce them to technology and I will re-watch as I enter parenthood to remind me of the dangers that the internet plays on adolescents. Men, Women & Children does not give the viewers much closure and neither does most of the characters at the film's end but maybe that's exactly what Reitman's message was: life goes on. We do not know if the characters have fully learned their lesson or how their lives will play out but it wasn't necessarily needed to get the message across.
When bringing it back to the concept of "Pale Blue Dot", it isn't only the characters who need to realize that almost everything that happens, all the fighting, all the desires, all the love, is very very trivial when compared to the vastness of space but the viewers as well. We all need to think on a grander scale and remember these computers and smart phones are just as trivial.
Labels: 2014, Adam Sandler, Ansel Elgort, Full Movie, Jason Reitman, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Men Women and Children, Movie Review