Men, Women and Children Blu-ray Review
If there is one thing that could be considered a negative about 21st Century technology it would have to be the fact that people from all over the world can now communicate with each other daily and never, ever interact physically. Texts, Tweets, instant messages, Facebook, email…you name it, it’s available. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Those are the questions asked by MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN.
Don (Sandler) and Helen (DeWitt) have been married for a long time. Their marriage has grown from one of romantic passion to one of convenience. Often rebuffed in the bedroom, Don has learned to take care of his needs via the many web sites available on the World Wide Web. Helen has also taken to the net, posting a profile on a popular “cheating” web site. Helen begins to take an interest in her “sister” and finds many occasions to not only visit her but to spend the night. She encourages Don to go out with friends. Which he does. At $800 a pop! But it’s not just the adults that have been seduced by technology. Don and Helen have a son named Chris (Travis Tope) who has so many bizarre and perverse pornographic acts on his laptop that he is now unable to get excited unless it’s something “unusual.” I won’t go into details but let me just say that when I had a NERF football certain things NEVER entered my mind.
A rambling, almost two hour endeavor, Jason Reitman’s latest film never seems to “go” anywhere. Besides the family above, there is a young high school football star named Chris (Ansel Elgort) who, depressed because his mother has run off with another man, has quit the team and now spends hours in his room playing a popular on-line game. He doesn’t feel lonely because he’s playing with people from all over the world. He has the feeling of friendship without having to make the effort. Chris befriends Brandy (Kaitlin Dever), a girl whose mother (Jennifer Garner) monitors her every keystroke and text. Another girl at school (Olivia Crocicchia), with her stage-mother’s encouragement, has her own web site, where “fans” can download images of her in her cheerleader outfit or a shorty nightgown. The girl is ecstatic that she has “fans” and the mother is too blinded by the idea of fame at any price to realize who the “fans” are.
Reitman had seemed on the path of greatness with his first few films (THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, JUNO, UP IN THE AIR), earning four Academy Award nominations. But his previous film, LABOR DAY, was pretty much dead in the water and this one, while taking on some pertinent issues, really never answers the questions asked. When it was released in theatres it did little business and the reviews were either raves or very negative. You can’t blame the cast for this. The entire company does a solid job with Sandler very strong in a dramatic role. And if you’re looking for a little trivia, this could be the very first film in which opposing insurance pitchmen (J.K. Simmons and Dennis Haysbert) appear! Something to look forward to.
Video: Presented in a 1:78.1 aspect ratio, the film is sharply detailed. Evening shots are not too dark and the various bright colors, especially the many cheerleading scenes, are sharp and not washed out. There are also a lot of screen “pop ups,” simulating what you would see and experience on a computer screen. These are also well rendered.
Audio: Available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the film’s soundtrack is well mixed.
Virtual Intimacy (13:30): Interviews with the cast and filmmakers discussing the impact of the digital age on their lives and society in general.
Seamless Interface (8:30): Gareth Smith, the film’s visual effects supervisor, shows how the various on screen “pop ups” were created.
Deleted Scenes (9:58): Five scenes (four of them about a minute or less) that aren’t missed.