Based on a novel by Chad Kultgen, Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children is a multi-character film that wants to deliver a message about how our burgeoning electronic connectivity -- through phones and computers -- has actually distanced us from each other.
That's not a new message; indeed, Henry-Alex Rubin examined different aspects of the same social virus in his underseen 2010 film, Disconnect, to better effect. Reitman's film digs slightly deeper, in terms of creating, then splintering, relationships in the story. But he's also a lot more obvious in hammering home his points.
You have the married couple (Adam Sandler, Rosemarie DeWitt) who are bored with their sex life and hunt up new partners on the Web. Their son is a 15-year-old porn addict who can't quite imagine how real sex could compare.
There's a also a teen (Kaitlyn Dever) with a mother (Jennifer Garner) so overprotective that she spies on every keystroke in or out of her child's laptop and smartphone. One girl (Olivia Crocicchia) has a mother (Judy Greer) who goes in the opposite direction, abetting her dream of becoming a reality-TV star by maintaining a website to nurture her showbiz dreams (and bring in a little extra cash).
Even as we watch the characters, we also watch their screens. Texts, emails, photos, emojis -- they are as much a part of any conversation in this film as the words, glances and touches that two people exchange.
Sometimes Reitman uses the multiple points of focus to humorous effect: In one scene, three cheerleaders talk while they paint posters for a pep rally. But two of them are exchanging harsh remarks via IM about the third girl -- yet she never suspects because it is no longer considered rude to look at your phone while having a conversation.
A digression: Is there ever a reason to cast Adam Sandler in anything?
This review continues on my website.