Review: Men, Women & Children

You can’t have it both ways, Jason. You can’t set up a deeply contrived film, then refuse to conclude your film because life is messy.

Teenage kids and their parents – the title really be Mums, Dads and Children – live lives unrecognizable from those a generation ago, with a resulting replacement of innocently erotic fumblings and stumblings with internet-fuelled, legitimately dangerous behaviour.

Gone are the days of John Hughes-style simplicity. Solution? Make a John Hughes-style film to highlight it.

The pic begins as a Love Actuallyinspired series of intertwined vignettes – including a voice over by Emma Thompson just to make the comparison a mandatory one. One girl has an eating disorder, one boy quit football when his mother walked out and one father is trying to date again. Then there’s the girl with a website selling photos to strangers, the boy whose porn addiction has curbed his interest in sex, and the parents who are cheating on each other online.

To combine all these in one tale requires a lot of filmic shorthand. Characters are little more than stereotypes, yet Reitman still spends too long on set up, even interweaving a clunky Voyager probe leaving the galaxy contrast – old technology, big picture, geddit? The result is a film playing catch-up.

This effect is felt in the second half as threads are unceremoniously dropped while those that are completed are mostly given a lazy “there is no easy solution” dismissal. Ultimately it feels like Reitman walked away from his characters saying “gosh what a mess”. How right he was.

‘Men’ Women & Children’ Movie Times