R Dir: Jason Reitman | Paramount | 1h 59min
Plot: What’s it about?
It’s safe to say that we’ve become a digital world. Everything we do, however minute it might be, seems to something that we need to constantly let our friends and family know. I lost count of the number of useless posts I see from some of my friends about the most mundane things one could imagine. Social media has taken this to the max. It’s also not unlikely to see people constantly walking and staring down at their phones or even while driving. And, who isn’t annoyed by the people who refuse to turn their phone off in a movie theater? It’s a problem that likely isn’t going away any time soon. Men, Women & Children takes a look at this world. We are treated to various story arcs of how modern technology affects us on a daily basis. We see everything from a High School student who quit the football team to a couple who is missing the spark in their life and resort to an online service. There’s also an overprotective mother played by Jennifer Garner who goes so far as deleting messages sent to her daughter. This causes her daughter to create a fake profile on an entirely different site. There’s quite a lot going on in this film, but Director Jason Reitman handles it perfectly. He allows all the characters and various stories to be fully explored. Nobody is shortchanged here.
It’s challenging for a lot of us to go even 5 minutes without checking our phones and the film does give an accurate portrayal of the modern world. A challenge for me (and most reviewers of this film) would be to devote time discussing every single plot thread. There are a lot of characters in this film and admittedly, it became a little much at times, but repeat viewings might benefit the film. I was surprised to see Adam Sandler star in this film in what turns out to be a very strong performance. At first, he’s pushed to the side given little to do, but over the course of the film we see how his relationship has lost its magic. We also see how sometimes being an overprotective parent can have a reverse effect and actually cause more harm than good. The film took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I think the strong direction and solid pacing is what works here. In addition, the cast is top notch. The film also avoids feeling preachy. It simply shows us how we interact in the digital world and the sometimes scary effects of that. It’s very worth checking out.
Video: How’s it look?
The 1.78:1 AVC HD encode is everything we’d expect from a new to Blu-ray film. To its credit, Men, Women & Children does have a bit of a different look and feel to it thanks to all of the “online” elements that were put in post production. It certainly gives the film a unique look and others that come to mind that utilize this effect are Non-Stop and The Social Network. That aside, the film has a very warm and inviting feel. Detail is sharp, colors are bold and bright. Some of the scenes have a very fine layer of grain, but nothing that really detracts from the overall picture quality. A nice effort here, for sure.
Audio: How’s it sound?
If you’er expecting a virtuoso powerhouse of dynamic audio then you need to look elsewhere. Men, Women & Children does contain a DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, but it’s essentially all dialogue-driven. There is a scene in the opening that envelopes us with the spoken word (in several different languages) and makes great use of all the speakers, but that’s really about it. Sorry, no car chases, guns firing or bombs detonating in this one. Having said that, the vocals do account for the majority of the soundtrack and they’re all accurately reproduced in a very crisp and clean nature. No complaints here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Virtual Intimacy – This is more of a microcosm of the film itself in which the cast and crew sound off about the film’s themes, online life and all of its positive and negative qualities. It’s a very candid look at what our world has become.
- Seamless Interface – Gareth Smith, the film’s Visual Effects Supervisor, gives us the lowdown on some of the style and context of the visual “online” representations. Because banner ads aren’t annoying enough as it is, now we’ve got them in our films… sort of.
- Deleted Scenes (1080p): Five in all including an “additional storyline” according to the back of the box, but I was hard-pressed to find it.