The Twit­terati made me do it

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

MEN, WOMEN AND CHIL­DREN ★★ Di­rected by Ivan Reit­man Star­ring Rose­marie DeWitt, Jen­nifer Gar­ner, Judy Greer, Dean Nor­ris, Adam San­dler, Emma Thomp­son, Den­nis Hays­bert, JK Sim­mons, Ansel El­gort 16 cert, gen­eral re­lease, 119 min The lat­est film from Ivan Reit­man in­vites view­ers to ask them­selves some dif­fi­cult and search­ing ques­tions. Fans of ear­lier Reit­man projects such as Up in the Air and Juno may, for in­stance, find them­selves won­der­ing what hap­pened to a once-promis­ing tal­ent and whether the lat­est project might ac­tu­ally be worse than last year’s stom­ach-churn­ing La­bor Day.

Based on a novel by Chad Kult­gen, this con­tem­po­rary Reefer Mad­ness – with dig­i­tal in­ter­ac­tions re­plac­ing cannabis – posits that peo­ple of all ages and of both gen­ders are, thanks to Twit­ter, email, videogames and the rest, no longer able to ab­sorb in­for­ma­tion in quanta of any sig­nif­i­cant size.

Such vic­tims should get on fine with Men, Women and Chil­dren. Flit­ting fu­ri­ously from one story to the next, the film seems, ap­pro­pri­ately enough, un­happy to al­low any ex­changes longer than 140 char­ac­ters.

Adam San­dler and Rose­marie DeWitt play a cou­ple who, un­known to one another, have been look­ing for lovers on the in­ter­net. Young Ansel El­gort has be­come ad­dicted to a vari­a­tion of World of War­craft. (My un­dead priest, Marke­smith, and I sym­pa­thise.) Else­where, a mother helps her daugh­ter con­struct a quasi-porno­graphic web­site and a girl is driven to anorexia by in­ter­net bul­ly­ing. There’s more.

Men, Woman and Chil­dren is nicely shot and well acted by a star cast. But it feels more like a se­ries of case stud­ies than a sen­si­bly con­structed drama. A bizarre voiceover from Emma

Young peo­ple: Travis Tope and Olivia Cro­ci­c­chia

Thomp­son con­cern­ing the Voy­ager Space Probe is puz­zlingly pre­ten­tious. The decision to project tweets, texts and emails on to the screen might have felt clever five years ago, but now seems like a worn-out cliché.

The film’s big­gest dif­fi­culty, how­ever, is its in­abil­ity to find any mid­dle ground. Most of the char­ac­ters have been psy­cho­log­i­cally annihilated by var­i­ous in­ter­net ad­dic­tions. At the other end of the spec­trum, Jen­nifer Gar­ner, a de­ranged pu­ri­tan, ar­gues that the ma­chines are the work of the devil.

Most of us are get­ting along just fine, Ivan.

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