Movie Review: Men, Women, and Children

Men, Women & Children is based on the book of the same name, which I now want to read. It has a fantastic ensemble cast, and focuses mainly on three or four stories or so; it reminded me of 2013's Disconnect (another good film) in that it focuses on how teens use the internet. I almost missed the screening of this movie, but I'm very glad I decided to attend at the last minute.

The official synopsis of this movie from IMDb is: "A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives." That very basic summary makes a good start at explaining the gist of the movie. High school football player Tim Mooney (Ansel Elgort, The Fault in Our Stars) has decided to quit the team this year, after his mother abandoned him and his father (Dean Norris) and moved to California with her boyfriend. He befriends fellow student Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever), who tells him how her mother (Jennifer Garner) looks through everything on her internet search history; she even combs through the texts on Brandy's phone and has a plugin installed on her computer that tracks every keystroke she makes.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, another classmate's mother (Judy Greer) encourages her daughter Hannah's interest in acting and modeling, and they have a website up that has some PG-13 rated photos of Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia). Hannah, meanwhile, displays an interest in another football player, Chris (Travis Tope), whose parents (Rosemarie DeWitt and Adam Sandler) are both cheating on the other, in different forms; his father pays an escort that he finds online, and his mother joins a "dating" website for cheaters, or people who are already married.

All of these stories overlap in subtle ways, and I love movies that do that. Hannah's mother (Greer) is dating Tim's father (Norris), but he balks when he finds out about her daughter's "portfolio" website. Greer also goes to a "support group" that Garner's characters hosts at her home, about the dangers of the internet, and does a pretty funny impression of her after the meeting, to make Norris's character laugh. Garner's character also finds out the hard way of what could happen when you become too much of a "helicopter parent," and how her actions should be thought out carefully too.

Yes, definitely see this movie. All parents should see this film - although I'm not a parent, it's a good way to see the dangers of our modern society, as well as the possible good that can come from all of the technology we currently have at our fingertips. Although I like Jennifer Garner as an actress, her character in this movie was so overprotective, that it almost ended up hurting her daughter in the end, rather than helping; we also have an opposite example, that of Greer's character, who maybe allows her daughter too much freedom. I wouldn't recommend this film for younger teenagers, but I'd say 16 or 17+ would appreciate this movie, and might even learn something from it; I hope it does well as the box office, and it should, solely based on its A-list cast.

Men, Women & Children is currently playing in theaters, and is rated R with a runtime of 119 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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