Men, Women, & Children is a film directed by Jason Reitman, based on the novel by Chad Kultgen, and focuses on relationships of both parents and children in the Information Age.
Starring an ensemble cast of Kaitlyn Dever, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ansel Elgort, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Dean Norris, and Adam Sandler, Kultgen’s book appears on screen but much of it gets cut down so as to get an R-rating rather than NC-17. The screenplay was co-written by Reitman and Erin Cressida Wilson.
Rounding out the young cast are Elena Kampouris, Travis Tope, Katherine Hughes, Olivia Crocicchia, and Timothée Chalamet. Also in the adult cast are David Denman, Jason Douglas, Dennis Haysbert, Shane Lynch, and J.K. Simmons. It just wouldn’t be a film directed by Reitman without Simmons.
Just as with the book, although some of the characters weren’t focused on so as to keep the film close to 2 hours, the film follows a group of high school teenagers and their parents as the attempt to navigate life in the Information Age. The reality is that the internet has changed so much of the way people have a relationship and how they communicate. It has changed how one views himself or herself. Most importantly, it has changed their love lives.
These social issues are viewed through video game culture, anorexia, infidelity, fame hunting, and the amount of illicit material that can be found on the internet.
While the book was set in Junior High School, the film was changed to depicting their sophomore year of High School instead. I think this was a good move as far as casting goes. I don’t think any parents would have wanted their seventh or eighth grader cast in a role in which they would be required to appear to be in a sexual relationship.
Characters and their relationships are tested and the film, just like the book, shows the road that they travel down–although in the case of Tim Mooney (Elgort) and Brandy Beltmeyer (Dever), things were not quite the same as the book as a secret MySpace account gets replaced by a secret Tumblr account. One thing stays the same, Patricia Beltmeyer (Garner) is still as overprotective of a mother as there can be when it comes to protecting her daughter.
These tests show that nobody is immune to the social changes that come through our phones, tablets, and computers. This film is important in that regard but it doesn’t quite reach the level that shows why Reitman is a quality director. It’s certainly no Juno but then again, Diablo Cody didn’t write the book it was based on. Chad Kultgen did and his fratire genre shows very much so.