'Men, Women & Children': What the Critics Are Saying
Jennifer Garner, Dean Norris, Judy Greer, Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson, Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Crocicchia and Kaitlyn Dever stars in Jason Reitman's drama
Jason Reitman's latest drama, Men, Women & Children, connects Jennifer Garner, Dean Norris, Judy Greer, Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Crocicchia and Kaitlyn Dever — well, kind of.
The Paramount ensemble film follows a group of high school teens and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image and their love lives. It gets a limited release on Oct. 1 before expanding on Oct. 10 and 17.
Read what top critics are saying about Men, Women & Children:
The Hollywood Reporter's chief film critic Todd McCarthy calls it "hypnotic, if clinical" film that "skillfully navigates through the personal melodramas of many characters with a nice sense of balance and a sharp appreciation of generational differences. ... Gracefully and just maybe too neatly, Reitman orchestrates the diverse storylines to converge at a moment when many of the characters finally get together romantically. ... Reitman maintains a very cool tone, in keeping not only with the electronic nature of the characters’ lives but with a much reduced sense of romanticism and eroticism."
Additionally, "the cast is an ensemble all the way, with the well-known actors meshing seamlessly with the unknowns and newcomers. As a horny sad sack who’s reluctantly accustomed himself to sublimating his pressing needs, Sandler appealingly underplays, while DeWitt, as his straying wife, ultimately expresses a boldness at odds with her fundamentally unadventurous nature. Greer and Garner nicely catch the essences of characters that are clueless and scary, respectively. With its cultural antenna at attention and a style as precise and burnished as the latest high-tech instrument, Men, Women & Children will always serve usefully as a snapshot of this moment; illustrative right now, it will likely look quite quaint within a decade."
The New York Times' A. O. Scott warns, "You might need a special algorithm to keep track of all the intertwined stories in this latest entry in the Babel/Crash school of somber serendipity. ... Not every story sustains the same level of interest. Some are too neatly packaged as cautionary tales, but others manage at least to hint at the confusion and stickiness of real life." Despite the careful character work of the ensemble, the film’s beginning and end state via voiceover that the problem isn't the technology, it's the humans who use them. "True enough, but this conclusion undermines the film’s premise, dissolving the thematic glue that holds its stories together and emptying out the lessons it wants to teach. Veering between alarmism and cautious reassurance — between technohysteria and shrugging, nothing-new-under-the-sun resignation — Men, Women & Children succumbs to the confusion it tries to illuminate."
The Guardian's Henry Barnes calls it "fragmented and frustrating, ambitious and forthright, ... Reitman’s film has parental controls on. It attempts to discuss sex and intimacy in an era when the two are commonly confused, but it does so with a chasteness to match the Twilight movies. ... Men, Women and Children is clever, but in love with its cleverness. It’s knowing, without having all the answers. There’s something about the director’s tendency to work a laugh that grates, something about his attitude to 'ordinary' people that alienates."
Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf gives the film two stars our of five, as the "ominous and panicky" title is "the first Reitman film to make the 36-year-old director seem about 400 years old." He blames it on a mismatch between Chad Kultgen's novel and "Reitman and co-screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary), whose mutual instincts for light-touch theatrics somehow amplify the material's wailing siren of a thesis: Turn off those devices now."