Men, Women & Children Movie Review
Jason Reitman directed Juno and Up in the Air. He also directed Men, Women & Children, a movie that was destined to fail before it was ever made. About the affects of technology on modern day relationships, Men, Women & Children is a mildly entertaining flick lacking depth and cohesiveness.
Shocking, given the movie is spread across so many people and stories:
- Kaitlyn Dever, who plays a teenage girl who is obsessively cyber-stalked by her obsessively obnoxious mother
- Jennifer Garner, who plays said obsessively obnoxious mother
- Ansel Elgort, who plays a depressed former high school football player trying to make sense in a world where his mother has abandoned him
- Dean Norris, whose primary success in this film is to make me want to watch “Breaking Bad” again
- Judy Greer, whose character doesn’t seem to realize that selling sexy photos of her underage daughter is inappropriate
- Katherine C. Hughes, who does a good job playing a teenage girl suffering from anorexia but whose character is so woefully underdeveloped there’s really no point
- Adam Sandler and Rosemarie DeWitt, who play a frustrated married couple seeking solace with other people
Emma Thompson also narrates gibberish throughout, because gibberish sounds a little less incomprehensible when spoke in a British accent.
Piece by piece, Men, Women & Children works well enough; the actors deliver good-but-far-from-memorable performances in their respective roles, and their stories are generally entertaining. But as a whole, the affair is very shrugworthy.
Ensemble dramas rarely work unless they build toward something focused and purposeful; Men, Women & Children feels more like an experiment that fizzles at the end. The stronger story arcs are nearly fleshed out, but many of the “side stories” don’t have much meat. The movie wraps with what can best be described as an anti-climax; Reitman closes things out too neatly and nicely given all the shit he puts his characters through. There’s the predictable suicide attempt, the mother who realizes she is being overbearing (and boy does she deserve worse than what happens to her) and the awkwardly icy confrontation between a cheating couple. If Reitman’s goal is to say that despite all the craziness that happens in the world that things will work out fine in the end, then okay… but I highly doubt that’s what he intended.
Men, Women & Children makes for a harmless rental, but it is by far Reitman’s weakest effort to date. If you’re really fascinated by the subject matter for some strange reason, go watch the Jason Bateman-starring ensemble Disconnect, released in 2013. It suffered from many of the same problems, but is the superior of the two films.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.