'Men, Women & Children' Premiere: The Enduring and Endearing Qualities of Jason Reitman

"He could have made 'Juno'-esque movies for the rest of his career and been a bazillionaire and been the toast of the town … but he’s an artist"

With dozens of castmembers (such as Jennifer Garner, Ansel Elgort and J.K. Simmons) spilling into the Directors Guild of America Tuesday night, warmly greeting one another with hugs and hearty handshakes, the Los Angeles premiere of Men, Women & Children felt more like a family reunion than a red-carpet event — and for good reason, according to star Kaitlyn Dever.

"There was no moment where we were annoyed at each other," Dever said of filming with her ensemble of castmates. "I felt like everyone loved each other like a family."

"There was always someone to hang out with, which was amazing," actor Will Peltz said of bonding during the Austin, Texas, shoot. "It was kind of like going to summer camp, which was so much fun."

Just a few of the cast’s favorite memories: group yoga, canoeing, and late-night doughnut runs with director Jason Reitman.

Read more 'Men, Women & Children': Toronto Review

"Jason would call us randomly, and just at like 11 at night, [say] ‘Yo, I’m going to get doughnuts, who’s coming?’" actress Katherine Hughes said. "We all spent way too much time together, so not only was the film incredible, but the whole experience was unreal."

It's no wonder the cast tried to liven up their downtime as much as possible given the heavy subject matter dealt with in the film, including infidelity, pornography, social media addiction, anorexia and more.

"A lot of characters in this movie go through things that a lot of people go through," said Elgort, whose character develops an all-consuming obsession with video games. "I think that’s why it’s called Men, Women & Children. It’s quite an appropriate title. This movie isn’t about social media and technology. It’s about people."

For Garner, the humanity that was readily apparent in the film’s characters was what attracted her to the role of overprotective mother Patricia Beltmeyer in the first place.

"I was drawn to the role because I felt like I understood that she’s coming from a place of love, and she just loves her daughter and she’s trying to do the best she can by her," Garner said. "And even though she’s grossly misguided, she’s not evil."

Read more Toronto: Reitman's Back in Form — and Awards Contention — With 'Men, Women & Children'

Co-written by Reitman and Erin Cressida Wilson, Men, Women & Children is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Chad Kultgen. Kultgen is also the creator of the new NBC half-hour dramedy Bad Judge.

"[Jason is] certainly one of my favorite directors working today," Kultgen said. "And I think he handles this specific tone and subject that I write books about very well in his movies. I feel that we are in a similar space in terms of what we’re doing creatively, so I thought he was the perfect guy to do it."

If the Men, Women & Children premiere were in fact a reunion, Reitman certainly would have been the family favorite, drawing rave reviews from countless castmembers, and in particular from actor J.K. Simmons, who previously worked with Reitman in Young Adult, Up in the Air, Labor Day and Juno.

"It’s an unwritten rule — maybe it’s written down somewhere — that I have to be in all of his movies. And thank God for that," said Simmons, who plays the father of a young daughter in the film. "Whether it’s a little part like this or a bigger part or a one-line voiceover, whatever it is, I’m always anxious to work with Jason on whatever he’s doing next."

"And I love that he doesn’t repeat himself," Simmons continued. "He could have made Juno-esque movies for the rest of his career and been a bazillionaire and been the toast of the town but he’s — it’s an overused word — but he’s an artist, and he’s creating new things, and I love being a part of it."

Men, Women & Children opens in theaters Oct. 17.

Twitter: @OliviaNiland

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