Men, Women, and Children: REVIEW

The internet has changed us.

Men, Women, and Children wants us to wrestle with that. And it’s an important conversation worth having – if anyone in our society cares, that is.

From Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air), Men, Women and Children follows a number of high school teenagers, as well as their parents, as they navigate the internet and social media when it comes to the way they interact with others, view themselves, and create relationships.

Though there’s a plethora of characters that tend to get lost within the tapestry of the film, the talented cast elevate what could have been a predictable, sluggish drama into an engaging and timely tale. Adam Sandler, in particular, gives his best, most simplistic performance in years, making me wonder why he doesn’t take a crack at drama more often.

Let me just say, straight upa large portion of this movie is about sex. And about how people use technology to go about getting it. It’s about affairs, immature relationships, pornography, and failed marriages. It’s definitely only for mature audiences, but it’s still an important discussion to have. MW&C reflects a mirror back on our society – what have we become?

At times, viewers will feel disgusted. And I think that’s the point. Whether it be a grown man using his son’s computer for “intimate” websites, or a mother taking risqué photos of her high school-age daughter for financial gain.  Though, the film fails in that it goes too far over the edge of “showing” rather than “discussing.” It could have easily exposed us to the problems of using media for sexual gratification without teetering on the edge of being what it’s warning us about.

But perhaps the most surprising thing about Men, Women, and Children is that its real message seems not to be one about technology at all… By the end, we remember that it’s just as possible to make meaningless connections in real life. Humanity is the same it’s always been – these evils existed before the internet and social media. But perhaps new avenues have made these impulses easier to act on.

So how will we treat our relationships? How will we interact with technology? Will we commit to real, genuine relationships based not simply on our own selfish desires, but on the connecting with another and looking after their best interests? Will we pursue authentic connection and relationship, or will we continue to use the advances of our society to take advantage of others for our own gratification?

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Men, Women, and Children is rated R for sexual content and language. Please be warned that the main focus of this film is on sexuality — and in that, deals with a number of sexual scenarios, including teenagers. While the “sexual” scenes are never intended to titillate, I would caution viewers to be prepared for what they are going to experience. The film is full of characters seeking out ways to be “sexually fulfilled,” whether it be through pornography, affairs, ‘escorts,’ or meaningless sex. Men, Women, and Children is only for mature audiences ready to wrestle with a heavy topic, though my recommendation of the film is limited due to the times when the content shown goes a bit too far. 

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

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