Men, Women And Children
Jason Reitman's new film is something of a mixed bag, and that's being kind. I saw it a couple of months ago, and all I can remember about it is that it has a voiceover by Emma Thompson (and even she can't make a voiceover interesting) and it's about the insidious effects of the internet on our relationships.
In other words, it's a message movie. And frankly that's not what I'm looking for from the guy who made Juno and Up In The Air, though we should not forget that he also made the dull dull dull Labor Day.
It's also a story with a lot of different characters, all of whom intersect at some point. Which means that we have to keep switching our attention from one relationship or situation to another. Which in turn means that it is very hard to care about any of the people who keep appearing in front of us.
There's Adam Sandler and Rosemarie deWitt as a not-very-happily married couple who both use the internet to escape from the lack of intimacy in their marriage. Jennifer Garner plays an uptight and controlling mother who wants to control her teenage daughter's every thought and movement. Said daughter, Brandy, has a thing for a young man called Tim, whose father (a widower) is attracted to a single woman Donna, who is in turn creating a career for her teenage daughter as a glamour model (ion the internet). And so it goes on.
Films like this have to reach a pretty high standard, such as that which was set by Short Cuts or Magnolia. I can promise you that MWAC falls a long way short of that standard. It is not a complex and unexpected study of the depths of human nature and its foibles (as those films are), but a worthy attempt to point out the bleeding obvious – that while the internet has brought many advantages, it also has its dangers. Specifically, pornography, too much texting and video games.
There's also an element of The Ice Storm, another superior film in which young people try to behave like grownups, while the adults are all behaving like teenagers, with disastrous results. But that too avoided the pitfalls of the morality tale, which Reitman's film, which he cowrote with Erin Cressida Wilson. She has previous, mind you, with the appalling Chloefrom 2009, and – on the plus side – Secretary back in 2002.
As I said, we expect more from Reitman, but maybe he's been smitten with Rob Reiner syndrome, because his last 3 films (I'm including Young Adult) have been way below par. It's five years since Up In The Air, and nothing he's done since then shows any sign of the wit and insight displayed in that film.