MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN DVD (2014)
SYNOPSIS: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner and Ansel Elgort lead an outstanding ensemble cast in a story about high school teenagers and parents attempting to navigate their complex relationships in an era defined by social media, online exchanges and instant gratification.
Based on the book by controversial author Chad Kultgen and adapted to the screen by Jason Reitman and Erin Cressida Wilson, Men, Women & Children is a very serious movie about serious people suffering from very serious issues.
For a movie with provoking themes and subject matters, it’s awfully bland and preachy. There are too many characters and multiple storylines to be cram into a two hours running time. On hindsight, it’s better to split them into two separate movies, one about Men & Women and the other on Teens and Children.
The story wanted very much to tell us about the dreadful impact of social media, the cons of constantly having technology in our daily lives. However, most of the problems depicted here already existed way before the Internet. Adultery, pornography, teenage sex, depression over family matters and such, Reitman’s movie actually has lots of potential given his past efforts include the thought-provoking Juno and Up In The Air. But all the positiveness seems to be buried under clichés and adolescent drama.
On the plus side, Reitman has assembled an impressive cast from Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Ansel Elgort to newly-crowned Oscar winner J.K. Simmons. Sandler and Rosemarie DeWitt put in a muted performance as a couple, Don and Helen who just doesn’t have enough sex. Subsequently, Don resorts to hire an escort while Helen opts to try her luck at Ashley Madison.com. The locally banned website makes for intriguing storytelling and again, both actors and the audience are shortchanged in the end as the drama prefers to jump to other uninteresting vignettes liked Don’s 15 year old son who suffers from impotency and the strange celebrity-obsessed mother and daughter pair up, Donna (Greer) and Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia).
Another memorable storyline however involved the school former football star, Tim Mooney (Elgort) and his girlfriend Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever). Tim ditched his favourite sports and indulged in RPG games after his mom abruptly left the family for another man. Brandy on the other hand is heavily monitored and controlled by her over-protective mom, Patricia (Garner). Her phone, facebook and email accounts are tracked even her movements. This marks for a captivating piece but sadly its screentime is too limited to make an impact.
The frequent pop-up of graphical text bubbles and computer screen images make for a nice touch and the ironic-sounding Emma Thompson’s voiceover makes for a slight chuckle. Still, Men, Women & Children has too much flaws to tell a clear message. In sort, we are going to end this review with a sad emoticon.
The filmmakers talked about the story and influence of social media inthe 13 minutes feature, Virtual Intimacy.
Visual effects supervisor Gareth Smith talks how the many graphical virtual interface seen in the movie came about in Seamless Interface.
There are five Deleted Scenes, the longest being an unseen six minutes storyline that involves two other characters.
Dialogue is crisp and music lively but this is not a movie to talk about fancy sound effects in the first place. Though not particularly outstanding, colors and images are detailed.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee