HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Men, Women and Children
HTS Overall Score:64
The internet has changed society, much like inventing the wheel, or other incredible creations, our life has changed as a result. Many times in drastic ways. Many of them are fantastic, but many of them have impacted our lives in a negative way. Humans have always been prone to addictions of some sort, just look at all the support groups out there. However, the internet has created a virtual world that allows for anonymity and all the benefits and pitfalls that brings to the table. “Men, Women & Children” shows us just what can go wrong when you mix the internet and addiction as it pours layer over layer of tragic stories brought on by the isolation and freedom that the internet has brought to mankind over the last 25 years or so.
The movie is really an ensemble film, made up of a dozen little side stories that all are interconnected in some way shape or form. We have the couple who are drifting apart, so engrossed in their digital lives that they don’t even see the boat slipping away from the shore. The mother (Rosemarie Dewitt) feels alone and isolated as her husband (Adam Sandler) is more interested in the naughty, subversive world of illicit online material, while the husband also feels the same, as she slips off into her own isolated online world. The problem comes when the two actually decided to do something about it, as the isolation empowers them and draws them in deeper than they ever thought possible. Then we have Kent (Dean Norris) and his son, Tim (Ansel Elgort) whose mother has left them. Kent is your typical sports father and is getting back into the world of dating, while Tim has become addicted to online gaming as a result of the divorce. Tim finds some sort of solace in the gaming world, but his true support comes from the timid affections of Brandy Beltmeyer (Kaitlyn Diver), a girl who is so smothered by her INSANELY over protective mother (you know one of those parents that pretty much stalks their child in an effort to protect them from anything and everything) that she can’t even have a normal high school boyfriend without the world ending. Mix in a dash of a crazed mother who’s living vicariously through her daughter’s acting website and takes things just a bit too far as well as an anorexic cheerleader who’s bullied into silence from a boyfriend who refuses to admit to the rest of the world she exists.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36641[/img]I’m not sure what to make of Jason Reitman’s work here. In some ways it’s really powerful, as there are some solid points to be made. Especially with how isolated the online community can turn if mishandled, however the heavy handed storytelling really hampers the effort. It’s as if he took every internet addiction known to man (except ironically internet gambling) and through it all in a big bucket of actors and stirred the stick around. The gross excesses portrayed on screen is not an everyday occurrence for EVERYONE and it made the film feel extremely excessive and one sided. As if all the benefits of the internet was ignored so that Reitman could rant about all the pitfalls for two hours. He does try to bring it all together at the very end with an effort of making the characters find some sort of equilibrium, but it comes across as a bit too clichéd. Especially considering all of the dark subject matter that went on for the last 2 hours. It didn’t help that Emma Thompson narrated the entire film with her Nanny McPhee voice, which would have been comical if not for said dark content, and just ends up being a bit weird. Add in the film going LITERALLY all Carl Sagan on itself in its closing arguments and we find a movie that just ends up being mediocre.
Being mediocre is the saddest part of the whole equation as there are some really good points to the film. Adam Sandler isn’t as good as his “Punch Drunk Love” days, but he pulls a performance off that I didn’t think the man was capable of. It was nothing short of incredible to see the dramatic change over the stuff he’s been doing lately (and I even liked “Blended”). Jennifer Garner was so creepy as the overly protective mom that I almost didn’t recognize her. She’s got such a beautiful smile and cheery disposition, that seeing the crazed soccer mom with a bee in her bonnet was startling to say the least. Kaitlyn Diver and Ansel Elgort really sold the movie though. Their sweet, but timidly realistic relationship really light up the movie whenever they’re the focus of it. They’re both believable in their internet problems, as well as the real world interactions of two teenagers falling in love. However, mixed with the downsides of the overly morose and exaggerated storyline the films runs like a wave, up and down, with the audience never knowing whether they were going to riding the high of a fantastic scene, or the lows of being clubbed over the head by the “moral”.
Rated R for sexual content including graphic dialogue throughout-some involving teens, and for language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36649[/img]Paramount does excellent work on their video encodes and it shows here. The image is razor sharp and looks well saturated with some excellent colors. There is a lot of text on screen from the little texting popups that Reitman strewed throughout the film, and that is an excellent area to look for sharpness as text has a nasty way of degrading really fast if there are any flaws. Luckily everything looks amazing, from the sharp images popping up on screen, to the crisp text, to the fine detail all over the place. There are a few moments of softness, usually in some of the more dimly lit scenarios, but only for a short moment. Blacks are inky and deep enough, giving room to plenty of shadow detail with no negatives that I could see. The disc itself shows no signs of artifacting or digital manipulation so I have to give them one two thumbs up.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36657[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is what you would expect from a dialogue driven drama. The front soundstage carries much of the focus and the vocals are right up there in the center (literally). Dialogue is crisps and clean, with no downsides to my ears. The front two channels carry some nice ambient noise and create a nice sense of directionality when called up (think the football game or the school fight). Surround usage is actually rather solid, considering the style of movie it is, and fills out the background quite nicely with plenty of acoustic nuances. Little background sounds come from the sides in some of the more boisterous scenes, and the channels are utilized in full force with the melancholy score. LFE is punchy and tight, and while it’s not a huge powerhouse it is present for a majority of the film, adding some subtle weight to the track.
• Virtual Intimacy
• Seamless Interface
• Deleted Scenes
“Men, Women & Children” really tries, I do give it that, but the proof is in the pudding (as per the age old statement) and the pudding just isn’t right. There are some great highlights of the movie, with some great performances. I’ll even go so far as to say that Reitman has some very good points to make in his little drama, but the execution is what stopped it from being a great, or even really good movie. I feel conflicted about it as the highs can get REALLY high, and the lows can get pretty bad. It’s definitely an adult movie (and ironically as there’s not much nudity, or even implied, but rather the verbal content that makes it such), but one that has a point to make. Sadly the point got a bit to Carl Sagany (that’s a word I just made up) and gets lost in its own points somewhere. I’d definitely rent it first.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Gardner, Ansel Elgort
Directed By: Jason Reitman
Written By: Jason Reitman
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French, Portuguese DD 5.1
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 13th 2015
Buy Men, Women and Children On Blu-ray at Amazon
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