Men, Women, and Children by Chad KultgenCyber-interconnectedness is spoiling solitude, ruining jeopardy. So this movie from director Jason Reitman and his co-writer Erin Cressida Wilson which they adapted from the novel by Chad Kultgen is an interesting, spirited, if finally rather sentimental attempt to tackle this issue and set it to rest. It wants to show 21st-century lives being lived out on screen and online, with both older and younger generations now dependent on the web. Teens get bombarded with adult material unimaginable to their parents at the same age; grownups are infantilised, tempted into digital arenas of fantasy and irresponsibility. This puts the teen angst into perspective, rather like the observatory scenes in Rebel Without a Cause. The taciturn male at the centre of this ensemble is Don, a depressed guy in a stagnant marriage played by Adam Sandler; his only solace is online porn, far more important than the old-fashioned staples of TV and beer.
Film Review: ‘Men, Women & Children’
A potentially interesting premise is handled so badly that what might have been a provocative drama quickly and irrevocably devolves into the technological equivalent of the old anti-dope chestnut "Reefer Madness," squandering the efforts of a strong and talented cast struggling mightily to make something of the ridiculously trite material. Based on the novel by Chad Kulgen, Reitman's adaptation is set in a small Texas town, and follows a group of high school students and their parents whose lives have been overrun with high-tech gadgets and all the troubles they can inspire. Donny Adam Sandler is an ordinary guy whose dissatisfaction with his marriage leads him first to straightforward internet pornography and later to an escort service for a fling; little does he suspect that wife Helen Rosemarie DeWitt is following a similar mental trajectory. Their son, Chris Travis Trope , has become so versed in pornography that direct human contact with a girl is no longer enough to excite him—a condition that reaches a head, so to speak, when sexpot cheerleader Hannah Olivia Crocicchia makes a play for him. Hannah, by the way, is an aspiring starlet who has a website filled with provocative photos for her "fans," and if you are curious as to where her mother is, it turns out than Mom Judy Greer runs the site and takes the photos in the hopes of giving her daughter the Hollywood career that was denied her years earlier. Mom, by the way, is beginning to see Kent Dean Norris , who is still reeling from his wife's recent abandonment of him and his son, school football star Tim Ansel Elgort.
The film opens with a narration about the Voyager satellite before proceeding to tell the story of several families and the various ways the Internet affects their lives. Donald and Helen Truby are a married couple who have become sexually unsatisfied. Their teenage son Chris has been viewing pornography since the age of 10 with his preferences becoming more and more extreme to the point he is unable to become aroused by material deemed "normal" by society. Tim Mooney is a high school student and football star, of which his father Kent is very proud, who has become depressed in the wake of his parents' divorce and abandonment by his mother. He has also come to believe, referencing Carl Sagan 's reflections about the Pale Blue Dot , that human life is insignificant in context of the universe. Hannah is a high school girl who wishes to be famous one day.
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Naturally, Brandy turns out to be the most thoughtful and well-adjusted teenager onscreen we even see her reading a book! Mainly, though, the filmmakers seem to want us to shake our heads at the screen in collective self-recognition as several of the characters are sent lurching toward tragedy — particularly in the case of anorexic teen Allison Elena Kampouris , whose fixation on her body, fueled by an online community of fellow self-starvers, combines with her sexual naivete to particularly toxic effect. The picture that emerges means to be at once diagnostic and empathetic — to simultaneously scold its characters and pat them on the shoulder as they gradually realize the full extent of their isolation and their need for authentic human connection. The vibe established is both admonitory and soothing; the ever-present synth accompaniment by composer Bibio and various soft-rock tunes take on the faux-consoling ambience of hospital music. One by one these teens grapple with the full complement of sexual, body-image and personal-boundary issues, while their parents realize the folly of both excessive leniency and excessive paranoia.