I think that Men, Women and Children could easily win my award for “Worst Film Made by a Talented Director.”
Jason Reitman is responsible for off-beat pieces like Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air, all good in different ways, and all distinct and memorable. Here, we get a ham-fisted messaged about the dangers of the online world, delivered in a preaching, sanctimonious manner that makes it feel like a film about the Internet from 1992, and not one released today. Imagine: a modern film where Adam Sandler isn’t the worst part of it.
Men, Women and Children follows the interconnected lives of several people and families, as it covers their difficulties from the overuse of various forms of Internet systems. Don Truby (Sandler) and his wife Helen both use the Internet to conduct affairs, their son is addicted to Internet porn, another character at the son’s high school is addicted to online gaming, another classmate begins to sell lewd photos of herself in an online camera show, etc etc. Melodrama is piled on melodrama until it’s laughable, and not in a good way. This is a movie where a character legitimately almost dies because another character gained access to their online messages.
The fact is, yes, all these things are possible, but they are extremely unlikely, and can be easily prevented with common sense and good education. The film offers none of this, instead portraying the Internet in much the same way as rock and roll was shown in the 1950s. If a greater emphasis was placed on the whole idea of “the Internet is about connecting with people but ironically drives us apart,” that would be a good place to have taken this film. Instead, it just feels muddled, and incredibly weak on whatever genre it wanted to sell itself. The incredibly annoying voice-over narration by Emma Thomson also didn’t help things. You should have known better Emma.