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An ensemble drama dealing with overbearing parents, porn addiction, marital issues, and abandonment.
Review (with Spoilers)
When it comes to comedians like Adam Sandler, as I mentioned in the Hateship, Loveship review, often their dramatic roles, especially after they have peaked, are far superior to their comedic roles. If just because most comedians have one sole shtick and they pretty much beat that into the ground until all that is left is the person behind the clown makeup. But, while I like Adam Sandler in dramatic roles, honestly he was not the draw here. More so it was Ansel Elgort, from The Fault In Our Stars & Divergent, as well as Kaitlyn Dever, who is in one of my favorite movies: Short Term 12. Also, though only in a voice over role, the film has Emma Thompson and despite The Love Punch, I still am very much in love with her work. Now, as for whether you should see this film, look below.
Characters & Story
There are four families which are the focus of the film: The Truby family: featuring Don (Adam Sandler), Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt), and Chris (Travis Tope), in which there is a loveless marriage and porn addiction issues; The Clint family, Joan (Judy Greer) and Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia), which has the main issue of how Joan is guiding her daughter’s dreams of becoming a Hollywood actress; The Beltmeyer family: which is composed of Patricia (Jennifer Garner) and Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever), and an irrelevant dad, who are dealing with Patricia being a severely overbearing parent, to the point of putting a tracker on Brandy’s phone, getting transcripts of every text sent, and requiring all of Brandy’s passwords; and lastly there are the Mooneys: Tim (Ansel Elgort) & Kent (Dean Norris), who are dealing with Tim’s mother, and Kent’s wife, leaving for another man, on top of Tim quitting football.
Like most ensemble dramas, there are the stories which were either good, you wished were given more focus, or had potential unrealized. Something which can be said for nearly every family in this film. Such as the Truby family issues. For, focusing specifically on Don and Rachel’s marriage, it felt like it deserved to be a movie within itself. For with their marriage losing its spark, and then them seeking people outside the marriage, you see enough drama there for a totally separate movie.
Leading to the idea that the film should have solely focused on the Mooney and Beltmeyer family. If just because Dever and Elgort both had enough meat as individuals, and came off as such a cute couple, that I think between exploring the effects of Tim’s mom leaving, combined with why Patricia was so obsessively protective over Brandy, we could have gotten a really good movie which could have given us excellent dramatic performances. If just because enough time and depth could have been dedicated to the characters involved.
And before I forget, also the character Allison (Elena Kampouris) had a really good storyline dealing with her eating disorder and her crush on this guy named Brandon (Will Peltz). Which, to me, felt like an odd storyline to include in the film, but is good enough to warrant either an indie film or maybe even a TV show. One which could utilize the Clint family, with Hannah as a villain.
When it comes to criticism, first off I felt that the Truby and Clint families wasted valuable time. For one, The Truby family felt out of place in a film which largely focused on the relationships between parents and children since Don barely interacts with Chris, and I can’t remember if Rachel spoke to Chris once. Then, when it comes to the Clint family, I found it so weird that Donna would put her daughter through the same issues she went through when she tried to be an actress. Much less, I was unsure why she was unable to see she was basically photographing her daughter and then making a soft-core pornography site.
Leaving Emma Thompson role. She is simply a narrator for the film, and honestly I am unsure what the point of her narration is. For, with all the overlays of what people are doing on their phone, I think we get the point about how communication between people is breaking down and how, in Chris’ case, too much porn has made having sex with a real woman difficult. After all, most of what she talks about you can put together yourself. Making her narration, especially when it comes to these parts when we are looking at a satellite and she is talking about its history, completely unnecessary.
Overall: TV Viewing
Recognizing Men, Women & Children is based off a book, I’m inclined to say they should have focused on only the Beltmeyer and Mooney families and called it a day. Maybe add in Donna for a love interest so Kent could move on from his wife, and maybe replace Hannah with Allison for her daughter. For truly, in my opinion, Hannah, the Truby family, and the role Emma Thompson plays in the film, that should have been cut from the film, or not even considered in the planning stages. However, since it is there, I’m labeling this as TV Viewing. For with there being too many stories, of which a handful seem they deserve their own film or show about, and then the terribly weak story of the Clint family, Men, Women & Children feels a bit lopsided to the point I find it hard to recommend to watch this for 2 hours in a likely uncomfortable movie theater seat.
Things To Note
I so thought Kaitlyn Dever was Ellen Page for like a good few seconds.