Jason Reitman's Men Women & Children is a somber affair, and that's an understatement. The all-star cast spends the entire film sexting each other and not connecting. Yes, I realize that's the point, but does it have to be so serious and dour?
The glow of cell phones and tablets illuminate almost everyone's faces at all times. Adam Sandler's Don uses his son's desktop to watch porn, and he doesn't realize that his wife, Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt), has created an online dating profile to meet men. Chris, their son, spends a decent amount of his time sexting girls and looking up domination porn. Jennifer Garner plays a mother that is so obsessed with protecting her daughter that she monitors her navigation on a GPS, and she has created a system to delete messages before her daughter can even see them. She's kind of like Margaret White with a cell phone package.
If infidelity isn't your forte, Ansel Elgort plays a football player who draws ire from his fellow players when he suddenly quits the team after reading Carl Sagan. He no longer sees the point of doing something so insignificant, but he connects with Garner's daughter, Brandy. The pair sit in almost silence in the library, a romance blooms, and Elgort spends the majority of his screen time with a wet face. Did he watch The Fault in Our Stars before every take?
While some of the acting is solid (Garner is the most interesting, DeWitt is the most wasted), some of the other characters don't seem fleshed out or real. Judy Greer plays a photographer who is trying to get her daughter famous, but the scandalous snapshots on her website might stand in the way. It's all very interesting, but in this day and age, it's not very compelling. The similarly-themed drama Disconnect from two years ago dealt with technology ruining lives but in a more specific way.
There is a shot where DeWitt and Sandler are playing Words with Friends silently in bed next to each other. If they are dying to connect, all they need to do is turn to each other. Don't ask me to relate or sympathize if you are going to be lazy.