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Review: Men, Women & Children (TIFF 2014)

Men, Women & Children (TIFF 2014)
09.15.2014
100%
6 10

PLOT: An examination of the way technology influences the values and sexuality of a close-knit suburban community.

REVIEW: Among the flurry of big premieres to hit TIFF this year, one of the the most polarizing titles proved to be Jason Reitman's MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN. Some are hailing it as a sobering indictment of our times, while others say it's a melodramatic, achingly sincere mess. The truth is somewhere in the middle. While it can't be said that Reitman hasn't made a film of our time, his second foray into drama, following LABOR DAY, is unfocused, which keeps it from being the truly great film it had the potential to be, and sometimes actually is.

This is another of those multi-character studies in the style of CRASH, chock-full of actors looking to switch gears, including a prominent part for Adam Sandler as a sexually frustrated suburban dad. The problem is that the movie tends to dwell on the star parts, including Jennifer Garner as a near-psychotically over-protective mother, rather than on the more intriguing stories which involve the “children” of the title, most of which are unresolved by the time the credits roll.

If anyone is really effected by the huge leaps in technology, it's today's youth, and Reitman's movie acknowledges that in some intriguing ways. One of the most interesting parts involves Sandler's porn-addict son, whose been bombarded with so much easy to find hardcore pornography over-the-years that his sexual tastes have become permanently warped, leaving him unable to have a normal sexual relationship. Another interesting story involves the Judy Greer character's daughter, a great-looking girl who's been objectified with her own mother starting a modelling website for her in the hope of turning her daughter into a star.

Of the kids, only the Ansel Elgort and Kailyn Dever characters get any real insight. Elgort, who broke out this summer with THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, fares well as a former jock, who's quit football and has since become addicted to online gaming, which he uses to cover up the pain of his mother abandoning his family. Dean Norris (BREAKING BAD) is excellent as his father, who – while your typical football dad – refreshingly isn't portrayed as a boor. Dever plays Elgort's love interest, the daughter of Garner's psycho internet-watchdog, whose ways of monitoring her daughter's activities and interfering with her life become extremely melodramatic in the final act.

The biggest issue with Reitman's film is that it feels so much like a deliberate attempt by him to be taken seriously, to the point that any kind of comedic moment is avoided, making this a pretty morose film. It also goes way overboard into melodrama towards the end, although it can't be said that the twists aren't affecting, even if they feel extremely manipulative. Adding to this is the “on-the-nose” narration by Emma Thompson, which feels tacked on.

Yet, even though it's extremely flawed MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN is still an effective film. The performances (including Sandler's) are good, and it also has a terrific, electronica-style score by Bibio. It's a mixed bag, but overall it has something important to say, which is always something worth celebrating.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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6:31AM on 09/16/2014

Guys, I wouldn't get my hopes up about The Cobbler if I were you.

As sad as it is to read, word is that it's McCarthy's first real misfire and that it isn't much of a drama.

Sounds like your better off just sticking with this.
As sad as it is to read, word is that it's McCarthy's first real misfire and that it isn't much of a drama.

Sounds like your better off just sticking with this.
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8:16PM on 09/15/2014
Huge fan of Reitman's films and always look forward to his next films and/or projects. This looks like a solid ensemble cast drama with a meaty and controversial topic of today's world and generation.
Huge fan of Reitman's films and always look forward to his next films and/or projects. This looks like a solid ensemble cast drama with a meaty and controversial topic of today's world and generation.
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6:26PM on 09/15/2014
This doesn't surprise me. I liked the trailer a lot, but it so perfectly captured the themes of internet addiction that I had to wonder if the full movie could add anything. And I agree with queen bee, The Cobbler sounds like a much better use of Sandler's dramatic chops.

Reitman is such a good director when he's got the right material to work with, but ensemble dramas are very tricky to pull off well.
This doesn't surprise me. I liked the trailer a lot, but it so perfectly captured the themes of internet addiction that I had to wonder if the full movie could add anything. And I agree with queen bee, The Cobbler sounds like a much better use of Sandler's dramatic chops.

Reitman is such a good director when he's got the right material to work with, but ensemble dramas are very tricky to pull off well.
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6:07PM on 09/15/2014

No way.....

You're telling me an Adam Sandler movie got a bad review? I call BS.
You're telling me an Adam Sandler movie got a bad review? I call BS.
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5:58PM on 09/15/2014
The twist is that Adam Sandler character is Barry Egan and he`s moved on from calling prostitutes on a phone too the modern age of the internet.With bad consequences.

Sandler doing drama is a must see but i think The Cobbler will be a better showcase for him.
The twist is that Adam Sandler character is Barry Egan and he`s moved on from calling prostitutes on a phone too the modern age of the internet.With bad consequences.

Sandler doing drama is a must see but i think The Cobbler will be a better showcase for him.
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