Just Watched: Men, Women and Children

When I ran across this clip from the latest Jason Reitman film, I knew I had to see Men, Women and Children. In just under a minute, this bit of dialogue nicely alludes to cultural shifts related to the roles of Internet technologies in our lives, while also capturing a sense of that uniquely adolescent mixture of genuineness, irritation and sarcasm. After seeing Men, Women and Children, I now find this clip to be a deft microcosm of the film’s themes and approach to them, so much so that the full scene could have been a satisfying short film.

At times, Men, Women and Children can feel like a sprawling collage of characters and Internet-mediated interactions, but ultimately plotlines and motifs shape up to convey a compelling (though not necessarily coherent) picture of our relationships with each other and with information technology. The Verge summed it up nicely in the subtitle of their review:

a movie that gets the internet right

Though excellent as a film with relatable characters who reveal the facets of human nature that social media and the web can engender, facilitate, problematize,
exacerbate and maybe develop (eg. self-absorption, narcissism, loneliness, social connection, self-expression), I could have done without “The Pale Blue Dot” references. Even though that is an excellent perspective from Carl Sagan and seems central to the disaffection of one of the main characters, it feels too grandiose, too zoomed-out of a frame to ultimately place this story within. And if that’s the point, to convey a sense of the duality of insignificance and significance (or as “The Pale Blue Dot” does, to develop a sense of human significance through cosmic insignificance), it’s a rather heavy handed element of the film. [SPOILER ALERT] If the film’s last scene had been of Jennifer Garner’s character looking at her daughter and Tim, that would have been incredible. I thought that was such a poignant moment.

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