Next up on Netflix A-Z was a redrafted one. I just couldn’t find the motivation to watch my previous choice so I don’t even know why I chose this but it was just to fill the space and I vaguely remember hearing good things about this one, despite eventually remembering that Adam Sandler was in this… So here we are: Men, Women & Children. I’m hoping it’ll be quirky? What more can I say?
Let’s check it out! 🙂
Men, Women & Children (2014)
Director: Jason Reitman
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie Dewitt, Judy Greer, Emma Thompson, Olivia Crocicchia, Kaitlyn Denver, Ansel Elgort, Timothee Chalamet, Elena Kampouris
A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives.- IMDB
Movies with multiple storylines going on with various characters are always tough. They want to address certain issues but also develop the characters properly while still finding that balance to not make it too long and messy. Men, Women & Children is hard to determine whether it did a good job. The beginning was intriguing with narration by Emma Thompson who pops up a few times and then the ending wraps things up okay. The point isn’t quite lost when the story wraps up but the fact is, there wasn’t sufficient amount of time to cover all these characters without making some of them feel empty and disconnected. Because of this, I blame it mostly on the middle act that kind of loses its pull gradually and I started checking the time, wondering when it’ll end and still trying to figure out where they wanted the characters to go, as individuals or as a family or whatnot.
One of the themes here is how our lives have influenced us because of this digital age that we live in. We have social media and how much control is needed (especially parental control), online gaming and the community, the accessibility of porn and other sexual arousal mediums and finally, the easily found support on various things that influences our self-image and somehow lose reason but at the same time, the ignorance of the technology as well and just the lack of human interaction. We’re looking at 5 families (I think) and within these families, they are connected through the parents or the kids. To be honest, its a relevant statement what this movie is trying to attack but it just keeps emphasizing it so much in the middle part with no build-up for most of the relationships that it gets a little boring. It kind of seemed like it lost its purpose until it peaks and things turn to crap before they are resolved for each and everyone of them. Of course, the resolve has different level of intensity as well. However, because of the lack of connection by the underdeveloped characters, there was only a few characters that I felt was built well enough for me to care and feel bad when things took a bad turn.
Another pretty big issue it was address was the whole sexuality issue. We have boy overexposed to it, and then there’s the idea of where our morals lie and how that spectrum has slipped down a slippery slope because the internet sets less boundaries and therefore, it makes people feel less vulnerable when its online (or whatever the theory is). Its also the image of what sexuality is, like attraction based on appearance like how skinny is sexy. Those are basically the children’s side of the spectrum. I might have missed something since so much is going on. Whereas the adults have their own issues with lack of desires in real life (or excuse me “in RL”) and then having the whole accessible porn (similar to teens but change in what the look for) and then there’s the whole having an affair or not because its so easy to do it.
Here’s where I was thinking: great timing to watch this after the whole Ashley Madison going on. Then I started wondering, do the sponsors include various porn sites. My guess is maybe?
First of all, story wise. The best one goes out to the whole Ansel Elgort’s character Tim Mooney and this girl Kaitlyn Denver plays called Brandy. Their high school love blossoms with a nice build and just their characters seem to be taken the most care in forming. While at the same time, these two have their own parents who form rather interesting characters. Although developed not as in depth, Jennifer Garner who plays Brandy’s mom plays the over controlling parent who just strangles her daughter with monitoring her every online move and her whereabouts, never giving her the freedom. I won’t spend too much time diving into all the stories because this would just turn into a neverending essay and we all have better things to do. The intentions of the story were good. It just spends a lot of time repeating the message over and over again, especially in the middle part that it just gets a little dragged out without ever achieving the goal of us connecting with more characters. I’m not ragging on it because while most of the outcomes of the events, from turning bad to learning whichever lessons for each character, was pretty predictable, it still has good intentions about families, balance in relationships, control and freedom, limits of sexuality and all this with the new mentality we all have because of living in this digital age for whichever reason applies.
While this may be one of the more enjoyable characters played by Adam Sandler in the last few years, its a little sad that I found that his relationship with his wife in this story was probably the worse. Maybe its because I don’t relate and don’t understand the final outcome. Maybe its the view I have of it or just how I found certain events a little ridiculous. In the end, I can get why they chose that decision but the start of it just made no sense. Its about desires and he desires his wife but she doesn’t want it anymore or it seems… but why then would she do what she did? If you saw this, you might understand what I’m saying. The story and the decisions just don’t seem to make sense initially.
This has been running a lot longer than I expected but Men, Women and Children have a pretty strong cast. Its sad that the story wasn’t more compelling to watch from beginning to end. With Adam Sandler in a more serious role and young stars that have great potential in Ansel Elgort and Kaitlyn Denver. I personally enjoy Judy Greer and Jennifer Garner as well and very short appearances from J.K. Simmons and this guy thats in Under the Dome (I can’t remember his name). That’s just a quick overview of the cast, of course. With so many stories intertwining, there are lots more.
Overall, Men, Women and Children is an average kind of dramedy. I didn’t find it all that funny personally but it had some moments. They have a decent cast and even Adam Sandler does a fairly good job. Its just the story he’s in didn’t work well. There’s something here, especially the message it tries to sent about our digital world, the information accessibility, the dangers and all the influences bad and good and how it changes the dynamics and expectations for everyone: men, women, children, families, relationships, etc. Was it effective? Mildly. I wouldn’t resist sitting through this again because there were parts I liked but its nothing mind-blowing. I mean, other than the story with Tim and Brandy (and a bit about this other teenage girl’s story) that I enjoyed more, it was Emma Thompson’s random insert of narration about the world and the satellite and just the everyday life. That opening was really thoughtful and it felt unrelated but then it ends with the same thing about satellites and Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot and that quote is the perfect place to end this:
That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being that ever was, lived out their lives…on this mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam. How frequent their misunderstandings, how fervent their hatreds. Our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known. – Men, Women & Children
Have you seen Men, Women & Children? Any thoughts on it?