The tragedy of Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children is that it was released the year it was made. A snapshot of today's cultural disconnection, in which Facebook, texting, World of Warcraft, and streaming smut lure people away from dinner with their families, the film's so current that its observations feel like alarmist accusations.
Here, we have a teenage virgin (Travis Tope) so obsessed with porn that he's hapless with a real girl; his father (Adam Sandler), who browses escort advertisements while daring himself to click "Buy"; and his sexually frustrated mother (Rosemary DeWitt), who flirts with men on a cheaters website and decides to test-drive the guys IRL. Then there's the athlete (Ansel Elgort) who's become so obsessed with role-playing video games and his estranged mother's Facebook page that he's infuriated the whole school by quitting the football team, plus the one geek girl (Kaitlyn Dever) who doesn't care — and might even date him if her paranoid mother (Jennifer Garner, forever tight-lipped and tense) would stop erasing his chats before she reads them. Their jock-loves-goth romance is ripped from an '80s movie but flattened by today's technology. Instead of big, brave moments — think John Cusack hoisting a boombox — he merely taps out a sentence asking if she wants to hang.
Men, Women & Children feels like a sermon. It's obvious and mundane, "Chopsticks" pounded on the piano. In 2034, distance might give the film the weight of a documentary, the way that we now watch The Grapes of Wrath and think, "Steinbeck must be telling us how it was."