The Internet is a weird, unregulated, crazy landscape. And I guess that Jason Reitman guy thought so too because he made a movie about it called Men, Women & Children…which was less than stellar to say the least. The movie essentially follows multiple sets of characters; it isn’t a hardcore character study and instead goes for a less-focused narrative to get a point across. And boy, does it HAMMER that point home.
It strangely opens with the Voyager I satellite and things about Carl Sagan and attempts to wrap that around the aspects of technology in our lives with the stories of a failing marriage between Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) and Don (Adam Sandler), the helicopter parent (Jennifer Garner) who oversees all of her daughter’s (Kaitlyn Dever) Internet life and the relationship her daughter has with Tim (Ansel Elgort), and many, many more stories that are loosely connected that frankly, aren’t really worth getting into. And do you want to know why? This feels like a Lifetime movie made to condemn technology. It’s as if Jason Reitman took the most superficial aspects of technology and emphasized them to the max and stretched that out into a two-hour flick (which is far too long and overstays its welcome).
I’m not going to say that it is a bad film necessarily. These things do need to be talked about. We do need to talk about the place of technology in our lives, both the positives and the negatives. But that’s the strange thing about this movie, it has almost nothing positive to say about technology, it completely condemns them with militant vignettes about pornography, affairs, Facebook messaging, Tumblr accounts, racy photos, teenage sex, etc. It is such an utterly superficial analysis of what technology is and its place in society and then it tries really, really hard to hammer that point around Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot and it doesn’t make a whole lot of comprehendible sense beyond “TECHNOLOGY BAD.”
Some of the dialogue found within the film is incredibly cringe worthy with awkward pauses, just some seriously bad lines that feel like a Lifetime movie, etc. I think my issue is that there is far better work out there that condemns (and praises) technology and actually makes more valid and WAY stronger arguments. Last year’s Don Jon and its discussion of relationships and pornography and romantic movies was a much smarter film with more to say. Men, Women & Children is just so militant about its points and that isn’t even really the problem, the argument is weak and lazy. It isn’t even smart in the slightest. Anyone who has spent a couple of weeks on the Internet, actually critically analyzed what they are doing on there could have wrote about the same ideas with ease. It isn’t saying anything new. It isn’t saying anything grand and that’s a real shame because the cast is a pretty good one (J.K. Simmons, Adam Sandler (I’m serious about this one), Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Dean Norris, etc). It’s almost weird to me that all of these people signed onto such a superficial movie.
I’m not saying that the movie isn’t worth watching at all. Is it worth making your way out to the theater for? Hell no. It may raise some concerns for you about technology but if you’re smart enough, you probably already had these concerns way before you saw the damn movie anyway. Jason Reitman is a fairly competent director and the established style of the movie is actually pretty good and I enjoyed the usage of Pale Blue Dot but it fails to make a real, substantial point and feels so muddled and out of place (when it easily could not have been). I came into the movie wanting to like it. I want movies that discuss technology and its impact but can we get a little bit smarter about it? Maybe a little bit more complex? Maybe actually be willing to challenge the audience? Or are we still afraid to do that? I’m simply asking.
Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):
Jesse Jordon is an aspiring faux writer who writes this garbage on these blogs to make you laugh or learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) You can follow him on Twitter @WhyShitSoCrazy (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $4.50 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally). (I think I just said my book was shit.)