The Twitterati made me do it
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.