Men, Women & Children (2014)
Starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie Dewitt, Judy Greer, Dean Norris, Kaitlyn Dever, Ansel Elgort, Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Crocicchia, Elena Kampouris, Dennis Haysbert, J.K. Simmons, and Emma Thompson
Directed by Jason Reitman
Are you aware that the pressures of being a teen nowadays are amplified exponentially by the power of social media and texting?
Are you aware that some people get so lost in the internet worlds of role-playing games and pornography that they lose touch with their actual reality?
If you've been living under a rock for the past ten years, then writer-director Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children is the movie for you! However, if you're anything like me and pretty much everyone else, I'm sure that none of the above questions are altogether surprising. Reitman seemingly thinks that these notions are somewhat new as he tries to present all of them to riveting, shocking, and dramatic effect. Unfortunately, we've seen this story before in both movies and television -- and we've seen it done much better.
This is one of those movies where you simply try to guess at the beginning which teenager is going to commit suicide and which one is going to get pregnant because you know it's going to happen -- and, sure enough, Reitman doesn't do anything to reinvent the wheel because halfway through the flick someone gets knocked up and three-quarters of the way through we witness the suicide. Neither of which surprise us in the slightest as we could see them telegraphed from the film's opening five minutes. Reitman hasn't crafted characters here, he's simply created stereotypical avatars of what he must think sex-crazed teens (Olivia Crocicchia, Timothée Chalamet) or loner teens (Kaitlyn Dever) or jock teens (Ansel Elgort) or overprotective parents (Jennifer Garner) or cool parents (Judy Greer) or emotionally detached spouses (Adam Sandler, Rosemarie Dewitt) are really like. He then tosses in a tongue-in-cheek British narrator (Emma Thompson) to spout pithy remarks about the goings-on which confused the heck out of me as I couldn't tell whether Reitman was trying to craft something serious or whether this whole film was just an awful attempt at satire.
Across the board, some typically solid actors are left wallowing. Kaitlyn Dever (so good in Short Term 12) and Ansel Elgort (quite a charming surprise in The Fault in Our Stars) fare the best, but maybe it's simply because their roles felt the least cookie cutter. Also, would it be too hard for Judy Greer to land some more gigs? She makes the best of her part as a mom who posts risqué pictures of her daughter on the internet by imbuing a bit of heart and personality into the film -- something that Men, Women & Children is missing in spades.
The RyMickey Rating: D+