Men, Women & Children
dir Jason Reitman
scr Jason Reitman, Erin Cressida Wilson
prd Jason Reitman, Helen Estabrook
with Rosemarie DeWitt, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Adam Sandler, Dean Norris, Ansel Elgort, Kaitlyn Dever, Olivia Crocicchia, Travis Tope, Elena Kampouris, Dennis Haysbert, JK Simmons
narr Emma Thompson
release US 3.Oct.14, UK 28.Nov.14
14/US Paramount 1h59
Men, Women & Children
Please friend me: Elgort and Dever

dewitt garner greer
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Men, Women & Children This cautionary tale about social media could only have been made by someone who grew up before it took over the world. Based on the novel by Chad Kultgen (age 38), the film was written by Wilson (50) and director Reitman (36) as a cautionary tale highlighting the dangers of small-screen interaction. But viewers under 30 may find it condescending and simplistic.

As Rachel and Don (DeWitt and Sandler) both try to find spice outside their marriage, their son Chris (Tope) develops a connection with self-proclaimed slutty cheerleader Hannah (Crocicchia), whose anorexic best pal Allison (Kamoporis) is trying to emulate her and whose mother (Greer) is as determined as she is that she'll be a star. Meanwhile, Patricia (Garner) is closely watching everything her daughter Brandy (Dever) does online, worried that she's developing a friendship with Tim (Elgort), who has dropped out of the school football team, disappointing his dad (Norris).

Set in Austin, Texas, the intertwining plots touch on how communication and relationships are shifting in a digital age, but Reitman is far more interested in preaching about the dangers of text messages. Every moment in the film depends on the audience believing that people staring at a mobile phone is a bad thing. This will seem painfully obvious to older viewers, while younger (or more progressive) audiences will wonder why Reitman sees this as such a problem.

Sure, Patricia's obsessive control of Brandy's every message seems pretty villainous, but this parental paranoia has been around since the dawn of time. And the film only tangentially grapples with true online dangers. Much more interesting is the depictions teens who see texting, social networking and game-playing communities as perfectly normal ways to maintain friendships. The filmmakers seem to want us to believe this is all wrong, but we know better.

Thankfully, there isn't a weak link in the cast. Each actor finds resonant depth, with the younger roles offering much more complexity (adults are set in their old-world ways). Elgort and Dever are particularly strong, while Crocicchioa and Kampouris create often startlingly realistic wannabes. In fact, the characters of Hannah and Allison are so fascinating that they deserve a film of their own: they show that the true dangers in present-day society relate to consumerism, body image and peer pressure. These threats have menaced society for centuries, but this new slant is fascinating.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo, violence 17.Sep.14

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