The internet has undeniably changed the way we communicate, and Jason Reitman’s new film is a sharp exploration of that medium and the ways in which we relate to one another. It might not be as impressive as Up In The Air (one of my favorite movies ever), but it’s absolutely worth watching.
The film’s script tackles a number of various subplots across a wide range of characters. Naturally some of these storylines are more effective than others (particularly with regards to their eventual climaxes), but on the whole, the film does an admirable job of juggling them all in a consistent and absorbing manner. The glue that holds them together is Emma Thompson, who makes no actual appearances in the movie, but provides some highly-amusing voiceover narration.
Reitman’s film is well-cast across the board. The standout is certainly Jennifer Garner. She’s just perfect as the neurotic, overprotective mother who shockingly knows every single detail about social media and the internet’s intricacies (the woman has a special router installed in her house that prevents any messages from reaching her daughter without prior approval and censorship). Thanks to Garner’s performance, the character still manages to come out as likable and that’s no small feat. Adam Sandler is also a welcome surprise, adeptly capturing the nuances of a lonely husband who’s sorely in need of some physical intimacy.
But the greatest thing Men, Women & Children has going for it isn’t its performances or its script, it’s a hilarious visual gimmick that’s employed throughout. Every time a text arrives or someone uses social media of any kind, the words and icons appear on-screen besides the characters. It sounds simple enough, but this technique does a fantastic job of visualising how integral social media has become to our daily lives. Kudos Reitman, because this was an inspired choice.
An engrossing dramedy that tackles some timely themes with top-notch performances.