Men, Women, & Children (2014): Discover How Little You Know About the People You Know

Posted: February 26, 2015 in Comedy, Drama

men_women_and_children_ver2_xlgHigh school is hard enough, but the expectations around social status and identity make it enough tougher. For Allison Doss, all she wants is to be noticed by Brandon Lender, even if it means starving herself to feel more attractive. Brandy Beltmeyer is less concerned about a boy, but rather the intense control her mother has over her online access and general whereabouts. With Hannah Clint, her image is more important than anything, even if it means lying about her experiences or posting truly personal pics online. Tim Mooney seems to have it the toughest. While the recent divorce of his parents was hard enough, he feels like he is going through it alone and has fallen into the world of his gaming rather than dealing with it in real life. Will the parents figure out how to help their children find their way or suffer their own shortcomings?

Review: While Jason Reitman looked to make a film that balanced the complications of life in a digital age against the backdrop of the lack of worldly impact of individual actions, it was left with a lack of focus or closure for any of the individual storylines. That said, there were some redeeming elements of the movie. The concept of life in a digital age is a complicated one, which led to trying to highlight a number of different challenges associated with obsessing over or communicating through digital means. Whether it was the backlash on Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia) and Donna (Judy Greer) for getting too risqué with Hannah’s website, the conflict between Don (Adam Sandler) and Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt) ignoring each other to pursue affairs through online dating sites, or the pain of Tim (Ansel Elgort) learning about his mother’s engagement through Facebook, life has gotten more complicated.

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The film really fell short because none of the storylines had a sense of completion. Patricia Beltmeyer (Jennifer Garner) neary caused someone to commit suicide because she was controlling her daughter’s digital life. Other than cleaning up the mess she created in Brandy’s (Kaitlyn Dever) room and disconnecting the tracker on the router, she was not exposed for the pain she caused. After the fight between Hannah and Donna over the attempt at being discovered for Hollywood, there was no reconciliation. Don and Helen had an interaction about their affairs and a speech that helped to at least attempt to confront the issues, but the fight was left with a simple solution of “ignore it” and “let’s just make breakfast.” Their entire storyline just seemed to be misplaced compared to the rest of the film, as if Reitman wanted to include everything he could think of. Even the narration by Emma Thompson felt sad and depressing, diminishing the way people watching the movie might look at their significance in their lives.

While the film had an interesting concept and some promise, it just fell short of being truly compelling and impactful.

Dan’s Rating: 2.0/5


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