*THROWBACK REVIEW* MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN REVIEW

poster-trailer-for-jason-reitman-s-men-women-children-has-arrived-b9407028-750c-40cd-bdfa-ae140fb858b8

DO. NOT. BOTHER.

Jason Reitman pens a delightfully dull and dreary commentary on the woes of social media.

Certainly not what I expected. Which worked in one aspect BUT failed on so many others.

The recent spate of trailers seemed to market this as a romantic drama seen through the platform of social media i.e. Facebook, Tumblr, etc.

BUT all I got was a slow, dark and sombre social drama that made some fair points but didn’t really back them up with any substance, tension or story.

Merely a movie of moments. A shame considering the talent.

So what is it about? A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, self-image and how they communicate.

It really does sound as boring as you think. BUT it’s not a complete disaster.

The opening sequence was quite strange. A visually stunning but unnecessary tracking shot of a satellite travelling through the solar system. Eric Steelberg’s cinematography was superb (in this sequence). The wonderful Emma Thompson provided her vocal gravitas to the appropriately titled character, “Narrator”.

However, she soon blathers on about how sounds and videos were recorded in a capsule during 1977 to send out as a welcome message to extra terrestrials. Interesting. But what is the relevance?

None, apparently. It didn’t really fit in with the message or the tone of the film. Granted, the songs and messages highlighted how far we have progressed technologically to a minor extent BUT we still haven’t contacted extra-terrestrials. That we know of. If there are any. If we care. And if there are, they obviously didn’t like our noises.

BUT what does that have to do with social media impacting the everyday?

It felt a little pretentious for my liking and certainly didn’t get things going.

It eventually zipped along and was watchable. BUT the story lines and content just didn’t have enough for the two hour running length.

The only statement that I felt Reitman made well was the desensitisation and over-sexualisation of teenagers.

The scene in which a group of 16 year old cheerleaders are talking about how many men they have slept with and supposed sex acts they have inflicted was uncomfortable to listen to BUT all too true.

The fact that it is so easy for young teens to access porn and sexual images in this digital age paired with their ever-increasing hunger to grow up quicker was and still is a scary prospect.

Olivia Crocicchia was very good as the deluded Hannah Clint. A ruthless and overly ambitious young lady who will do what it takes to get what she wants. Her relationship with her mother Judy Greer was captured well and it was interesting to see the gradual change from something that seemed so innocent as a little modelling site soon becoming something much more.

Some of the story lines excelled, while others merely gave us a taster and then fizzled out into nothing really.

Kaitlyn Dever and Ansel Elgort played the outsider high school couple well, I suppose. BUT it wasn’t original or interesting. Their story line was a little stale. Hiding in the library and sneaking out to cuddle by a waterfall or river. I can’t remember. Lost interest. The closing minutes certainly came to a tense, if predictable, finale.

Jennifer Garner played Dever’s overprotective mother perfectly. Not enough of her. I was determined to see if there was more to her obsession with controlling and knowing her daughter’s whereabouts.

BUT no! The world is a terrible place and the Internet is worse. Her embargoes on the household Wi-Fi and mobile phone tracking apps certainly hinted at the cons of digital gadgetry.

The whole fear of online predators is still an important issue. Even more so with trolling and cyberbullying. BUT Reitman doesn’t even bother penning a story line featuring this shocking new development.

The whole affair felt quite dated. This would have been a lot more hard-hitting a decade ago, to be honest, when instant messaging and blogging had first popped up in the domain.

Dean Norris’ football loving dad arguing with Englert for dropping out of the team after his mum flew the coop was predictable guff. Englert’s video game obsession felt dated. I mean World of Warcraft is still a highly popular game BUT surely there’s a new one. Plus it wasn’t really explored that well.

J.K. Simmons was wasted in his role as the father in Elena Kampouris’ bulimic daughter story line. Her situation was one that should have been covered a little better. Hiding in her room trying not to eat while talking to online forums about fighting hunger pains was crazy.

Her story ended quite abruptly after hitting a crucial juncture and deserved more screen time, especially with vulnerable teens that are constantly battling with image and oversexualized music videos, media coverage and fashion magazines.

Adam Sandler was finally given another serious role and he did quite well but his character was so bland. The whole porn desensitising the average male debate was a valid point but who wants to see Mr Deeds getting hot and heavy while watching smut? Not me.

Reitman raised a good point in how teenage lads in particular will be looking for a particular woman after being subjected to such videos. Sandler’s son developing a crude taste for domination videos was a taboo that should have been explored. BUT Sandler’s character never confronts him properly about it.

In fact, he sees his son’s videos and has a bash himself. A little dark and comical BUT the tone didn’t really fit. I couldn’t tell how serious Reitman was trying to be. The film went too serious one second and satirical the next.

Sandler’s storyline was mediocre at best. It had a fair point about how couples lose intimacy and seek extra marital companionship online. The ease in what you can do on the Internet is a crazy and unsettling thing.

The affair sequences were certainly different BUT didn’t really amount to anything which was surprising, considering they “confronted” each other at the end. It just infuriated me because they seemed to blame their lost innocence from 9/11. Emphasizing how it changed everything.

I mean it could have been inappropriate timing that they changed as the world changed at that moment but I felt the reference lazy and unnecessary.

The sequences in which we see what people are texting, along with video inserts, was a nice touch. Especially when you see what people are texting about others who are in the same room.

BUT it’s hardly original. Hollyoaks milked that speech bubble text talk thing to death.

It made some good points BUT ones I’ve seen dealt with a whole lot better. It felt like a missed opportunity to expand, debate and explore new developments and how families are growing up with them.

It’s watchable BUT if you’re looking for hard-hitting, thought provoking Internet-related drama, I recommend Cyber Bully.

2.5/5 (Just)

Advertisements

SAY WHEN REVIEW

SayWhen2_glamour_2Nov14_810x540

WHEN! WHEN! WHEN!

When . . . will they stop churning films out like these?

A little harsh but oh so disappointing. (NOT Kevin Sorbo Hercules DISAPPOINTED!)

Keira Knightley certainly does her best but even with a decent supporting cast; you can’t help but feel that the film doesn’t deliver enough romance, enough comedy and enough of . . . anything really.

So what’s it all about? In the throes of a quarter-life (What?) crisis, Megan (Knightley) panics when her boyfriend (Mark Webber) proposes, then taking an opportunity to escape for a week, hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year-old Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz), who lives with her world-weary single dad (Sam Rockwell).

Knightley has already proven with Begin Again that she can deliver an American accent and handle a leading role with no qualms. She certainly delivers another solid performance which helps carry this lacklustre affair.

We start with the inevitable cheesy (and nauseating shaky hand held camera) montage of Knightley and her teenage friends having fun during their prom. A little unnecessary and overlong. That then skips to the present with Megan’s slacker plodding along through life. Flipping signs for her father’s business and constantly making up excuses as to why she hasn’t seen her career councillor.

A character I could relate to a little too easily. Her procrastination and immaturity becoming a bug bear for all who know her (Not that bit . . . I hope).

Ellie Kemper (Sex Tape) was probably the only high school friend who had any decent dialogue or actual substance. Constantly trying to control and push Megan to sort her life out. The sort of friend that we all have or (if you’re lucky) used to.

Her cringe-inducing wedding dance made for unsettling but laughable viewing. I’m never going to listen to Daniel Bedingfield’s “If You’re Not The One” in the same way again. But then again, I never liked that song. But that’s a different story.

The wedding was the perfect platform for Megan to hit breaking point. There was one unexpected revelation that I didn’t see coming which made for a surprise. The inevitable friends growing up and moving on spiel is playing to its heart content. Weddings, babies, etc. The usual guff.

However, it is at this moment that Webber’s Anthony (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) decides to pop the question to Megan. Her response? She runs away while pretending to be on a life changing seminar, of course!

Taking some time to re-think all her decisions and frustrations, Megan seeks refuge in 16 year old Annika’s home. Moretz doesn’t do a bad job but her character is a little weak, in comparison to the number of meatier and more memorable roles she has delivered.

Once Megan meets Annika’s dad, the legend that is Sam Rockwell. Moretz seems to be pushed into the background. Only to pop back up when the story is lagging. Her subplot involving a crush on one of her high school friends was all too tame and horribly cliched.

Sam Rockwell was . . . pretty much being Sam Rockwell. Which just about works this time round. To be honest, his role was a lot smaller than I expected. He’s instantly likeable and very entertaining. He works well with Knightley and they have great chemistry. He also delivers some funny lines and a couple of (definite) improvised moments. You could tell the cast were trying not to laugh.

I was frustrated that Megan and Craig had to fall in love with each other. It felt forced. We know Megan was unhappy with Anthony but he wasn’t a complete tool. It just seemed unnecessary. It would have been more of a twist if they didn’t get together. The friendship would have worked better. Don’t get me wrong, K & R do just enough to pull it off . . . and make it bearable.

I was hoping for more of an examination of Megan’s quarter-life crisis, as a lot more people in their 20s are going through this sort of thing, but it’s all resolved a little too easily and with a simple and lazy fling? Run out of ideas, maybe?

The gags are sparse and not very funny. One involving an anorexic tortoise just came off hammy and rather pointless. I mean come on! What was the point of it? A bonding prop for Knightley and Rockwell? And the naming a baby after planets gag wasn’t funny from the first planet. We didn’t need the entire solar system named at us!

In terms of drama, there were some good moments. An awkward encounter between CGM and (the alluring) Gretchen Mol’s (Boardwalk Empire) negligent mother showed promise and allowed Knightley’s Megan to step up but a few sobering words and that’s it? Really? Anyone could have played Mol’s character and to be honest, thinking back the whole scene was a little pointless as she doesn’t make a reappearance.

There was a turning point nearer the end of the film that allowed the little drama that there was to finally kick off. BUT again it’s all swept under the rug and resolved d far too easily. Leaving us with a cliched and highly predictable ending. Flat and expected.

There were some good performances from the rather bland characters. I couldn’t believe Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm was in this. It didn’t seem right without him shouting all the time. He didn’t do too bad a job.

Kaitlyn Dever (Justified) was quite funny and did well as Annika’s mad BFF. Webber played the dimwitted Anthony well. A change from Pilgrim. Completely oblivious to Megan’s feelings but not fully deserving of her frustrated temper.

There was certainly no issue with the pace. It zipped along well enough. I just wish it had a bit going on, that’s all.

Such a shame that it’s not as hard hitting or as offbeat as you wish. A mess but a watchable one. Say When? When you have the spare time and nothing better to watch, I’d say give it a go. They may have changed the title to Laggies but I just wish they could have changed the content instead.

2/5