Monday, October 20, 2014

Movie Review: "Men, Women & Children" (2014)

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Movie"Men, Women and Children"
Director: Jason Reitman
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes

In Texas, teenagers and their parents deal with how the internet, technology and mass, instant communication have changed their lives and relationships. An unhappy couple (Rosemary Dewitt and Adam Sandler) look outside their marriage for sexual fulfillment, an overprotective mother (Jennifer Garner) tries to control every aspect of her daughter's (Kaitlyn Denver)  life, a depressed ex-football player (Ansel Elgort) and his father (Dean Norris) try to cope with being abandoned by his mother, an anorexic girl chases the boy of her dreams, and a mom (Judy Greer) tries to live out her Hollywood hopes for stardom through her hyper-sexualized daughter. 

When trailers and teaser trailers are thrown at audiences ad nauseam for an extended period of time before the actual movie is released, it's hard not to have expectations when the best portions of said film are showcased and viewed numerous times, sometimes out of context. When we first heard about "Men, Women & Children," we thought it was an ambitious subject to tackle and hoped it would do the internet age and youth of today justice, as well as explore what it's like to live in this new age permeated with technology.

Apparently, Jason Reitman just flat out hates the internet.
And if the youth of today are anywhere near as sex-crazed, inappropriate and rude as this movie makes them out to be, we're sorry and pardon our French, but we have no fucking hope for the future of this planet.

As we stated, the topic of the film is a heavy one in our day to day lives as a society. There's no denying the prevalence and overuse of the internet, social media and electronic devices. Hell, we'd be hard-pressed to get through a meal without picking up our phones or watching television while eating, even though that's really bad of us to do. But Reitman's latest attempt is another in a string of not so great movies. His attempt is noble, but what we are left with is a film that ends up being too pretentious, overly dramatic, and has a humongous sense of self-importance, yet doesn't go much of anywhere. It is so ridiculously try-hard and does its best, once again ad nauseum, to make it a point that, while all of our problems seem so much worse because of the internet, we're just little fish in a big, pale blue pond and that we matter not. In fact, this movie might as well be called "White Men, Women & Children with First World Problems," since the majority of their issues are ridiculously trite and there aren't really any people of color aside from a few minor characters.

But Reitman's movie oversimplifies social media and just assumes it's only used for sullied purposes and general misdeeds. But friends, please remind us: was cheating not around before Ashley Madison and other various online dating sites? Was sneaking out of the house not a problem before the internet? Were over-sexualization, badmouthing and rumors nonexistent before Facebook? These problems were all there long before the proliferation of the world wide web! Depressed teenagers, first love, infidelity, anorexia and bad body image, overprotective parents, abandonment, suicide, teenage pregnancy, even leaked sexy photos hurting potential job opportunities have all been around for decades! The difference now is that the means of conveyance is right at your fingertips within an instant. With the quick click of a mouse, you can be on a porn site within seconds. With a couple of boxes filled in, you're on a dating site or looking for a hooker or signing up for a secret Tumblr account. It's easier, but it's also harder. On the flip side, sneaking around is probably a lot more difficult for both kids and adults. With things like child tracker/chaperon apps, keystroke logs, and remote desktop viewing and remote wiping capabilities, plus never being away from a phone EVER, there's never a time when you're unable to be reached, and if you don't answer your phone right away, people might begin to worry. BigJ and I have both been guilty of this, thinking the worst after one missed phone call from the other.

Contrary to what Reitman would have you believe, the internet can be used for good, but this movie largely ignores all that. Beyond this omission of what good can come from the internet, the entire film is just frustrating in general. What should be an emotionally investing film about the real struggles of having a technological crutch ends up feeling like a total drag. It is pretty slow moving and even gets borderline boring at times. Not only did we not feel any emotional connections to most characters in the film, but most of them were complete assholes. Instead of making sense of the character's happenings and/or backstories, or attempting to tell us how he thinks we can fix our over-reliance on social media and technology, he resorts to baffling audiences with an almost two hour diatribe and only a couple likable characters (Ansel Elgort and Dean Norris, to name two). The best part of the movie was the narration and hearing Emma Thompson say the names of porn titles.

In the end, this movie is basic as hell. It tries to be more important than it is, as it often quotes Carl Sagan talking about the insignificance of humanity in the grand scheme of the universe, and yet resorts to fear-mongering at the mothers who will view this film by telling them that their kids are only worried about who likes them and wants to screw them. Though the acting was great across the board, this was not enough to elevate the film beyond mediocre. We could sit here and talk for hours about what this movie gets wrong, and we feel like Reitman dropped the ball and did the opposite of what he wanted to accomplish with this overly ambitious movie that we ended up not really caring about in the end.

And we're sorry, but any mother who takes photos of their under-aged daughter in skimpy clothing and then puts up a "tab" on their website for private photo shoots after receiving emails for "special requests" for pictures??? Dumb as hell! How do you not just automatically assume that's a 50-year-old pervert?! I love Judy Greer, but DAMN her character was stupid!!

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 28%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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