The plot for Men, Woman & Children does get heavy-handed towards the end and Garner’s character is more caricature than anything, but despite its flaws, and even though this is hardly Reitman’s strongest film, it’s still a job well done.
Men, Women & Children
Genre(s): Drama, Comedy
Paramount | R – 119 min. – $39.99 | January 13, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Jason Reitman, acclaimed writer and director of Thank You for Smoking and Up in the Air, as well as Labor Day, has delved into the technological realm of parenting in the 21st century. Men, Women & Children is an ensemble piece that is a bit long in the tooth and a story that gets heavy-handed but excels with the performances from an all-star cast.
The story centers around various couples: Don (ADAM SANDLER) and Helen Truby (ROSEMARIE DEWITT) are in such a rut in their marriage that each begin an extramarital affair as their son, Chris (TRAVIS TOPE) develops a text-based relationship with Hannah (OLIVIA CROCOICCHIA); Tim Mooney (ANSEL EGORT) was a high school football star – in Texas so big time f-ball – but has quit the team much to the chagrin and anger of his classmates and coaches while his single father (DEAN MORRIS) begins dating the mother of fellow classmate Hannah; Allison (ELENA KAMPOURIS) is dealing with an eating disorder unbeknownst to her father (J.K. SIMMONS); last, but not least, is Patricia Beltmeyer (JENNIFER GARNER) holds quasi-seminars on dealing with kids and technology and at home keeps a keen eye on daughter Brandy’s (KAITLYN DEVER) social profiles as she begins hanging out with Tim.
Whoo, I think I got it all.
As you can tell, this is a typical ensemble flick where no one major actor gets the bulk of the screen time (good way to get a discount on their salaries) and co-writer/director Jason Reitman attempts to harness his inner Robert Altman topped off with melodrama but sincere performances all around… well almost all around.
The acting for the most part is good. Adam Sandler proves to be a capable dramatic actor with some solid scenes opposite Rosemarie DeWitt and one wonders why this can’t translate to comedy where he continues, of late, to output utter crap. J.K. Simmons and Dean Morris are good as (somewhat) clueless fathers to their respective offspring; and the “teen” actors all give solid performances from Ansel Egort to Kaitlyn Dever, Olivia Crocicchia and Travis Tope. But for all those good performances, then we get Jennifer Garner who seems to be a caricature of an actual person and is both laughable and annoying and comes across as a work of fiction, albeit I’m sure people like this exist, it’s not to this extreme and they are far and VERY few between I suspect. Oh, and I would be remiss to mention that Emma Thompson provides her British voice for the narration connecting the technological world of teens and their parents with the exploration of the Voyager spacecraft as it ventures into deep space.
Men, Women & Children, based on the novel by controversial writer Chad Kultgen, and adapted by Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Chloe) and director Jason Reitman, it’s an uneven dramedy but thanks to the cast of both stars and up-and-comers, it’s a movie well worth watching as there’s more than a carnal of truth as the youth, and even many adults, prefer their online world versus the real one, and on top of that, their sexual development.
All in all The plot does get heavy-handed towards the end and Garner’s character is more caricature than anything, but despite its flaws, and even though this is hardly Reitman’s strongest film (behind Up in the Air, Thank You for Smoking and even Juno), it’s still a job well done.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
Virtual Intimacy (13:29; HD) – This is a featurette on the story at the core of the movie about the social media versus personal contact among the youth today; features on-set interviews with members of the cast (including Sandler, DeWitt and Gardner) and crew (Reitman and others).
Seamless Interface (8:29; HD) explores the on-screen texts used in the movie as we see what the characters are typing and other graphics.
Deleted Scenes (9:49; HD) – Here we get 5 scenes excised or cut down from the final cut for what I can only assume was pacing.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Paramount releases Men, Women & Children onto Blu-ray shown with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio (theatrically released in 1.85) and a 1080p high-definition transfer. I have to say, I was mostly impressed with the transfer with excellent and sharp detail levels throughout and colors, albeit mostly warm at times, look good.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
Equally impressive is the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track with crisp and clear dialogue levels while also providing good depth for ambient noises like football games, mall chatter and other elements. It’s a well balanced lossless track that may not wow you but is certainly notable.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, the plot for Men, Woman & Children does get heavy-handed towards the end and Garner’s character is more caricature than anything, but despite its flaws, and even though this is hardly Reitman’s strongest film, it’s still a job well done. The Blu-ray released by Paramount offers an OK selection of bonus material while the video/audio transfers were quite good.
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.