Review: Men, Women & Children

Men, Women & Children sneaks out amidst the Winter blockbusters and family-themed fare that December normally produces - but this reviewer wishes it had stayed hidden. Director Jason Reitman stated that he hopes his film will inspire 'questions rather than conclusions' and to this extent he has succeeded, with the main question here being 'Why didn't I go and see The Pyramid instead?'

This loosely-connected anthological tale follows a group of high students and their parents, showcasing how 21st Century, internet-reliant life has affected the relationships within their lives. From an unhappily married couple seeking physical consolation to hormonal teens obsessed with body-image and hooking-up, Men, Women & Children is a hodge-podge of tired ideas executed in a stale, unrelenting fashion.

There is something inherently patronising about Reitman's film. It revels in the miserable lives of its protagonists as they scuttle through real life (or 'RL' as the character's put it) seeking banal comfort in online anorexia blogs, porn websites, or role-playing-games as some form of an escape. Celebrating the dark side of social media and the internet, Reitman condescendingly delights in presenting the horror and pain caused by his protagonist's reliance on these 21st Century innovations. With smug, comic-relief attempts in Emma Thompson's ethereal voice-over to Jennifer Garner's online-safety obsessed parent (imagine if Carrie's mum knew how to use Tumblr) , Men, Women & Children's themes are heavy-handed, dull, and verging on unintentional comic genius.

Aside from this condescending self-importance, Men, Women & Children is occasionally visually interesting. Text messages, online blogs, and photo messages appearing on screen as the character's use these social mediums is a neat touch. Although even this has been used to better effect before (see one hysterical scene in Bill Maher's Religulous 'death to bill maher lol :)' ). Perhaps if Men, Women & Children had engaged with some of the fun that this premise may have allowed for then its message may have actually reached its audience.

Patronising and self-important, Men, Women & Children is a tedious watch that gleefully revels in the miserable lives of its characters. Presenting the tired idea that social media and online pornography are the root of all evil, it feels a version of the world produced by Common Sense Media.

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