The rules are simple: The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Men, Women and Children (Paramount Pictures)
Directed by Jason Reitman
Reefer Madness for the Internet Age. Men, Women and Children is a cautionary tale blown way out of proportion. Everything that adults and children can do wrong where internet dating is concerned happens in this incredibly anti-technology, bad movie. Texting and blogging and posting photos and Facebooking. Every screwed up relationship with parents and classmates and friends and lovers. Men, Women and Children is the worse of our ultra-connected society. Ambitious to a fault, it fails to entertain or inform.
Men, Women and Children is the story of five families in a small well-connected town that find every way to screw up their lives using technology. But Men, Women and Children fails to portray real human beings. It fails to show real human interaction. Because it takes internet pitfalls to their extremes, and then it also takes its characters personalities to their extremes. The movie loses its grip on reality like a gamer couple who has forgotten to feed their children. Men, Women and Children is a cartoon. An awful PSA for internet privacy with all the safeguards off, careening out of control.
Do you remember the Reefer Madness movie. It’s before my time. But I remember seeing this movie that described the so-called marijuana menace. It was this hilarious pseudo horror film about the dangers of smoking pot. Sex and wild parties. Getting raped by black jazz musicians. Neglecting your friends and family and your health. And of course, a painful screaming death. It was an awful film full of lies and misinformation. Men, Women and Children is the Reefer Madness for the internet age… just not as good.
The movie reads like it was written by someone who doesn’t know any real people, just their avatars, and it’s ruined completely by an irritating narration. Frankly, without Emma Thompson’s insipid narrating and the cutaways to the Voyager Space Craft, Men, Women and Children may have been bearable. But as it is, the movie is shitty. Horribly biased against social-media interaction, irresponsible parenting, gaming and internet porn. Incredibly heavy-handed in its distaste for technology. And seemingly written by an alien from outer space after observing humanity for one weekend in a Nebraska suburb.
There are some pretty good performances from the actors, especially the kids. Just really bad writing. All the relationships formed online are awful. The only healthy relationships in the movie are the two couples who met offline. The situations get worse and worse with paranoia and porn addiction, trolling and catfishing. Finally a mother, probably the worse mother in a film full of bad parents, played by Jennifer Garner, concerned about her well-behaved and well-adjusted daughter’s online activity, takes it all too far. Her daughter is dating a nice kid, age-appropriate and sweet. But her mother thinks everything that happens with a computer is evil. The mother pretends to be her daughter and crushes the boy by text message, driving him to suicide. That’s screwed up, right? Well that’s just internet madness, man.
Men, Women and Children is not a good movie. I think I’ll blame the writing. Jason Reitman is a decent enough director, who has done great work in the past, but these characters were not believable enough for me to care about them or question their motives. It just doesn’t seem real. So the awful narration, anti-technology bias and poorly written characters make Men, Women and Children a bad movie.
This is a bad movie.