ADDICTED

Addicted1Review of Addicted by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky

Addicted is the painfully weak film about a sex-crazed mom losing control of her life. Based on Zane’s novel, the screenplay by Christina Welsh and Ernie Barbarash lacks narrative, realism, and any resemblance of substance.

“Zoe Reynard” (Sharon Leal) can’t seem to find happiness in her marriage to her loyal, successful, architect husband “Jason” (Boris Kodjoe) or their life with the two perfect children in a beautiful, sprawling house. The high school sweethearts remind each other of their affection everyday, with Zoe saying her love for Jason is forever to which he replies, “always has been,” and she says, “always will be” – which should have been followed up with “… or until a sexy, Spanish painter comes along.”

Feeling unfulfilled her marriage, Zoe tells her therapist that having sex with her husband two or three times a day still isn’t enough and is looking for something more. Her wish is granted and Zoe, an art gallery owner, meets a drop-dead gorgeous painter, “Quinton” (William Levy) who immediately seduces her and weaves her into his disturbing web.

What follows is an hour and a half of soft-core porn, scene after scene, as Zoe creates lies and excuses for leaving the house and missing her son’s soccer games. When sexy-artist Quinton declares his love for her, scared-off Zoe moves on to a random man she meets in a nightclub. Therapist “Dr. Spencer” (Tasha Smith) makes her realize that sex can be an addiction and that reflecting on the past is the best tool to change the present. The audience I was surrounded by was hooting and hollering at the screen, clearly engaged in the story, but to me, there was no story at all. The plot itself is eye-roll worthy at best, along with the mediocre acting and cheesy dialogue. Although Zoe is an Olivia Pope wannabe – career-driven, successful, and seemingly put-together – she’s a one-dimensional character with no redeeming qualities.

What may have worked in the novel unfortunately failed in this Bille Woodruff-directed film. It may be the 50 Shades of Grey for a different demographic, but it wasn’t racy enough to be eye opening or dramatic enough to care in anyway. The only positive things about this film was for the obvious reasons: William Levy, Boris Kodjoe, and so on and so on. But besides their physical appeal, there’s nothing else there.

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Review © Brigid K. Presecky (10/11/14)

Top Photo & Bottom Photo: Sharon Leal as “Zoe” and William Levy as “Quinton”

Q: Does The Addicted pass the Bechdel Test?

No. The completely unlikeable protagonist talks to her therapist about her husband and her extra-marital lovers (when she should have been at her son’s soccer games instead of making the grandma raise her children).

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BOTSO

Botso3Surprisingly dull doc about Wachtang Korisheli (nicknamed “Botso”) a man who has lived a very full life, but needs more adept storytellers to do it justice.

Botso was born in the Republic of Georgia when it was under Soviet domination. His artistic parents fell afoul of Stalin, but he escaped & became a much-loved music teacher in California.

Directed by Tom Walters. Screenplay by Hilary Grant. Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. NOT YET SEEN BY RICH

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Top and Bottom Photo: Wachtang “Botso” Korisheli

Q: Does Botso pass the Bechdel Test?

No.

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WAITING FOR AUGUST

waiting2Dumb Jan: I thought I was watching a moving–albeit too tidy–feature about a Romanian family, but it turns out Waiting for August is a documentary! Now all my original objections are amplified.

Seven kids stuck in a small apartment with no parents? “Fly-on-the-wall” doc suffers from Hawthorne Effect with heavily edited “heart-warming” footage. Sorry, but good intentions are not enough :-( (JLH: 3/5)

Written & directed by Teodora Mihai. Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. NOT YET SEEN BY RICH.

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Q: Does Waiting for August pass the Bechdel Test? DigitalStampA

Yes.

Georgiana Halmac–who is the oldest sister in a family of seven–speaks mostly to other female characters including her two younger sisters, her school friends, and an elderly neighbor. But most significantly Georgiana speaks frequently with her mother Liliana on the telephone, on Skype, and finally face-to-face (when it is August at long last and Liliana returns from Italy for some vacation time with her family).

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YOU’RE NOT YOU

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 8.25.50 PM3-Hankie Weepie earns them by dealing honestly with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Excellent performances by Hilary Swank as the “perfect” woman stricken by a catastrophic diagnosis and Emmy Rossum as the rebellious college student who becomes her caregiver (and then grows to become more).

Could have been awful, so kudos to director  George C. Wolfe plus screenwriters Shana Feste and Jordan Roberts. Based on a novel by Michelle Wildgen. (JLH: 4.5/5)

Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. NOT YET SEEN BY RICH

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In the opening scenes of You’re Not You, gorgeous “Kate” (Hilary Swank) lives in a lavish home with her incredibly handsome husband “Evan” (Josh Duhamel), and they appear to have it all.

It’s Kate’s 35th birthday and they are expecting dinner guests. But while they are flirting over perfectly placed appetizers, Kate inadvertently knocks a glass over. Maybe everything really isn’t quite as perfect as it appears to be? Later, her friends persuade Kate to play for them at her grand piano, but midway into the Chopin her hands unexpectedly tense up. The music turns dissonant; time stops; and then these ominous words appear in white type on the all black screen: “18 months later”…

That breaking glass was a symptom of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), best known in the USA as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. “18 months later,” Kate is in a wheelchair and Evan has spent the interim period working every day and taking care of Kate every night, consistently reassuring her–and himself–that everything is going to be fine. Kate, meanwhile, has tried her best to stay calm and controlled, but she knows that ALS is a progressive, degenerative illness that has no cure. After 18 months of living with a fixed smile on her face, Kate finally asserts herself–seemingly for the first time–by firing her stifling caregiver. Evan is aghast. Who will care for Kate while he is at work? Kate firmly announces that is her problem, and she sends Evan away.

emmy4The time has come to meet “Bec” (Emmy Rossum), a college student who drinks too much, takes drugs, screws around with married professors, and lives her life in total disarray. Bec says she wants to be a singer, but when she finally gets an opportunity to show off her talents, her nerves get the best of her. She ends up drunk and humiliated, hiding out in the Ladies Room instead of singing on the stage.

Then Bec sees Kate’s ad, so she applies for a job as Kate’s caregiver. When Kate asks Bec if she has any qualifications, ferocious-looking Bec turns surprisingly gentle. Yes, she explains, she cared for her grandmother in a nursing home, so she knows what to do. Evan is appalled, but Kate is impressed. Bec is her choice, and she’s prepared to accept the consequences of that choice. Kate truly believes she has finally found the right caregiver.

For the audience, Act II becomes a crash course in personal care. Most women will probably recognize all the coaching required. Many men probably won’t have a clue. Kate must teach Bec how to do almost everything around the house. These personal touches are done with warmth, and shed light on the realities of Kate’s disease. Kate calmly and carefully gives Bec cooking lessons, then just as calmly, she tells Bec how to help her on and off the toilet. As Bec gains in confidence, Kate slowly takes off her saintly mask and stops pretending all she can do it acquiesce in the face of her horrible illness.

Every cast member goes beyond stereotypes, making their characters really feel like living, breathing people. Duhamel is perfectly cast as Evan, and Jason Ritter plays the role of Bec’s love interest. There are also wonderful, albeit limited, scenes with Francis Fisher as Kate’s mother and Marcia Gay Harden as Bec’s mother. They both play versions of “the mother from hell,” and yet both actresses are compelling.

You’re Not You might sound predictable, but it was an incredibly moving, well-done film and that’s a tribute to both lead actresses as well as the team behind-the-scenes. I love Hilary Swank, but although she’s very good, she’s the “ill character,” so most of her trajectory revolves around her disease. You’re Not You therefore becomes a showcase for Emmy Rossum who, much like the young Tom Cruise in Rain Man, is the character who must subtly change, evolve, and become a full and responsible adult.

I cried my way through most of Act III, and I did so gratefully. Swank and Rossum took me on an emotional journey and when Rossum finally did her big song at the end, my heart told me she had totally earned it. Brava!

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Review © Jan Lisa Huttner (10/08/14)

Top & Bottom Photos: Emmy Rossum as “Bec.”

Middle Photo: Emmy Rossum as “Bec” with Hilary Swank as “Kate.”

Photo Credits: Alan Markfield

Q #1: Does You’re Not You pass the Bechdel Test? DigitalStampA

Yes! Absolutely!

The heart of the film has to do with the relationship between Kate and Bec, which begins in dependency but grows in depth as both women find it a source of mutual sustenance. Conversations about men–when they occur–are almost always on the periphery.

This become clear when the two mothers–Kate’s mother (Frances Fisher) and Bec’s mother (Marcia Gay Harden)–make their short but significant contributions in Act III. Both of these women are well-intentioned and both of them think they are fighting for their daughters, but neither of them has learned to listen.

Kate and Bec both grow by listening to–and being heard by–each other. Ultimately, by validating the voice Kate never dared to use before, Bec finds her own true voice as well.

Q #2: Who is Shana Feste?

I have seen four movies by screenwriter Shana Feste and she’s gotten better and better with each one. Her first film, The Greatest, had a terrific cast, but I absolutely hated it. The second, Country Strong, with Gwyneth Paltrow, had elements I really liked, but I still couldn’t recommend it. The third was the remake of Brooke Shields’ Endless Love and I thought it was quite good. But in this recent film, You’re Not You, Feste has given her actors good, strong material.

It was right to have the opening scene cut abruptly to 18 months later instead of tracking Kate’s gradual decline. The acting only added to the already-strong screenplay. I haven’t read Michelle Wildgen’s novel, but even if it was good, I’m sure there were still ways to botch the adaptation. Me, I think Shana Feste is learning her craft, and this is her best yet.

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DRIVE HARD

ThomasJaneAbsolutely awful “Action/Comedy” about a former race car driver–now the henpecked owner of a driving school in Australia–who gets tricked into serving as a “wheel-man” after a mysterious stranger pulls a heist at a bank.

We hung on until the end, suffering embarrassment for two good actors–John Cusack (aka thief) & Thomas Jane (aka wheel-man)–who are caught in a crude mess. (JLH: 1/5)

Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith with screenplay by Brigitte Jean Allen, Chad Law, and Evan Law (in collaboration Brian Trenchard-Smith). Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku.

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Drive Hard starts in a domestic space guaranteed to set men’s teeth on edge.

“Peter Roberts” (Thomas Jane) is having breakfast with his wife and daughter. His wife “Tessa” (Yesse Spence) is immaculate in chic professional duds. His daughter “Stacy” (Francesca Bianchi) is a tween in a very starched and proper private school uniform. Peter, on the other hand, is a shlub who seems to get his satisfaction in life–such as it is–by refusing to cut his hair. Of course Tessa is too busy to take Stacy to school and of course Stacy is embarrassed by the possibility that any of her school chums will see her Dad drop her off. And… my heart started to sink…

Peter’s next stop is his driving school (which turns out to be another female-dominated space). But this day is different. When he arrives (after dutifully dropping Stacy just the right distance from her school), Peter learns a mysterious stranger is waiting for him. He doesn’t want a lesson from any of the women who work there. He wants his lesson from Peter aka “The Boss.”

This mysterious stranger in his black leather jacket and baseball cap also has an American accent (just like Peter), and as they drive around the Australian Gold Coast, the plot machinations begin. “Simon Keller” (John Cusack) has come looking for Peter because he knows that inside that shaggy henpecked exterior, Peter is actually an F-1 champion! Yowza! JohnCusack

And so we spend several minutes toodlin’ around–with Simon always veering towards the American side of the road rather than on the Australian side of the road–until Simon finally asks Peter to make a small stop so he can run a quick errand. At which point, Simon deftly steals $9 million dollars worth of  Bearer Bonds. Let the chase–complete with obligatory macho hijinks–begin!

Bottom Line: This bank heist/road trip flick set in Australia is so bad that I could barely watch. My heart goes out to John Cusack and Thomas Jane — two terrific actors who must have hated every minute of this gig. NOT RECOMMENDED!

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Top Photo: Thomas Jane may simper at home but he’s a demon behind the wheel. Yech!

Middle Photo: John Cusack is the wise-cracking, pistol-snapping “bad buy” with a heart of gold. Oy!

Bottom Photo: Since the humans are so totally unbelievable, it obviously falls to the cars to provide whatever semblance of reality exists on screen :-(

Photo Credits: Mark “Tubby” Taylor (IMDb sic)

Q: Does Drive Hard pass the Bechdel Test?

No!

There are a couple of mother/daughter scenes–as Peter’s wife and child await word of him after he disappears–but the totality of their [limited] conversation revolves around him. Same thing for the ladies who work for Peter at the driving school.

Really, folks: The only real objects of interest in this film are the cars, and they exist in a “For Guys Only” universe :-(

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GONE GIRL

gone1What begins as a thought-provoking examination of a made-in-heaven marriage undone by the Great Recession turns into a tedious, misogynist–& very long–riff on FATAL ATTRACTION. Bummer! Dickens is great in a big role & Sela Ward shines in a walk-on, but otherwise this latest Oscar Bait from Fincher reeks of desperation. Adapted by Gillian Flynn from her best-selling novel. (JLH: 3/5)

Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku.

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Review of Gone Girl by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky

Gone Girl is the seductive, disturbing tale of a man accused of murdering his wife – interesting and thrilling up until it isn’t. The last 20 minutes of the film strip away anything engaging from the previous two hours (yes, two hours). The David Fincher-directed film is a compelling rollercoaster ride for the first two-thirds, but ultimately ends up hollow, unsatisfying, and jam-packed with layers that unsuccessfully translate from text to screen.

Gillian Flynn’s adapted story from her own novel follows “Nick Dunne” (Ben Affleck), a failed magazine journalist who moves from New York City to recession-hit Missouri with his stunningly beautiful, yet unhappy wife Amy Elliot. The first half of the film unfolds on two tracks, the first in present day; when Nick comes home to find Amy missing, the authorities try to solve her disappearance by questioning him, dissecting the house for clues, and holding a nation-wide press conference urging people to call “1-855-4-AMY-TIPS.” The other track is narrated by Amy herself, journaling the story of how “Nick and Amy” came to be and flashing back to happier times. From their first meeting to their engagement, Amy narrates how their once-fairytale love story went from infatuation to satisfaction to “This man of mine might kill me.” (Side note: Amy should have spent some of her unemployment time taking drama classes).

From there, the mystery unfolds until it is prematurely solved and the bizarre epilogue-type story takes over. There are so many scenes and elements from the book that are included in the movie that cover too much ground for a feature-length film. First, there’s the overly complicated love story of Nick and Amy, where the audience is trying to figure out who is the more sympathetic (or pathetic) character. Then, there’s the investigation with the police, with “Detective Rhonda Boney” (Kim Dickens) and “Officer Jim Gilpin” (Patrick Fugit) following the clues of Amy’s disappearance with the assistance of Nick’s lawyer “Tanner Bolt” (Tyler Perry). There’s Amy’s parents, famous novelists for their Amazing Amy series about a fictional girl named Amy that accomplished everything their daughter couldn’t. There’s the relationship between Nick and his loyal, bartender twin sister “Margo” (Carrie Coon). And then there’s the most out-of-the-blue storyline of Amy’s stalker “Desi Collings” (Neil Patrick Harris). Although every storyline tied together nicely for a good portion of the film, the lack of resolution makes it all seem pointless. It’s almost as if the rollercoaster we were on for an hour and a half chugged to the top, dropped a little bit making us think it was going to be thrilling, and then anticlimactically coasted in a straight line, coming to a dead stop and making all the hype lead to absolutely nothing.

There were so many elements laid out that could have made this film the best of the year, from Rosamund Pike as disturbed, doe-eyed Amy to Ben Affleck and his unreadable characterization of Nick, making you wonder, “Did he do it? No, he couldn’t have. Maybe he could have. I don’t know.” At the risk of using another metaphor, there was a volleyball bump, set, and unfortunately no spike. The casting, the direction, and the character development were there. The cinematography, the score, and the editing made the past and present worlds seem eerie and mysterious. What failed was the trajectory of the story itself. What is supposedly a novel about the trials of marriage is more of an onscreen story about the unemployed sociopaths in suburban Missouri.

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Review © Brigid K. Presecky (10/03/14)

Top Photo: Ben Affleck as “Nick Dunne” at his missing wife’s vigil

Bottom Photo: Kim Dickens as “Detective Rhonda Boney” and Patrick Fugit as “Officer Jim Gilpin” searching for clues in Amy’s disappearance

Q: Does Gone Girl pass the Bechdel Test?

Not really. There are scenes between Amy and other females, but they are completely centered on her tumultuous marriage to Nick. To me, the film is in no way a female-empowerment movie; it’s almost the opposite. From Amy’s character as a whole, to the foolish, pregnant neighbor and the Nancy Grace-type spokeswoman on TV, Gone Girl is the complete opposite of how women should be portrayed (and it’s surprisingly written by a woman herself). Margo and Detective Rhonda Boney were the only two female characters that had sensibility and substance and were not pigeonholed like the rest of the women caricatures.

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THE GOOD LIE

TopSudanSomewhat didactic but ultimately very moving drama about how a small group of kids managed to survive the Sudanese Civil War, followed by years in a Kenyan refugee camp. Finally they arrive in the USA just before 9/11… where a new set of challenges awaits them.

Kudos to Reese Witherspoon for adding her star power in a supporting role as a Kansas City employment counselor. (JLH: 4/5)

Directed by Philippe Falardeau. Screenplay by Margaret Nagle. Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. NOT YET SEEN BY RICH.

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The Good Lie is based on the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, caught in the mid 1990s civil war between the Arabic North Sudan and the Christian South. The film begins with young cattle herder “Mamere,” (Arnold Oceng) on a very placid, peaceful day, carousing with his large extended tribal family when Islamic men arrive on horseback and kill every parent in their group. The surviving children walk for 300 miles through scrub Savannah to end up being turned away in Somalia. Starved and dehydrated, their only option is to head towards Kenya. But in the midst of their journey, leader “Theo,” (Femi Oguns) gives himself over to the Northern Sudanese soldiers to protect his siblings and cousins from being caught. When Theo is dragged off, Mamere becomes the chief by default and they struggle on, eventually making it to a Kenyan refugee camp.

The film jumps ahead years later from the children at the refugee camp to when they are young adults, with their tribal group dwindled down to only four original members. Mamere and two other young men, “Jeremiah” (Ger Duany) and “Paul,” (Emmanuel Jal) and a young woman “Abital,” (Kuoth Wiel) have been working in the refugee camp in Kenya for more than a decade. Since Mamere has gotten to know the inspirational clinicians from Doctors Without Borders at the camp’s medical clinic, he and his friends are inspired to enter their names on a list to go to America for better opportunities.

Mamere, Jeremiah, Paul, and Abital are notified of their acceptance and the four of them board a plane to the United States. When they land in what’s presumably JFK, the group is separated – the boys are allowed their own apartment in Kansas City and while Abital is sent to Boston (since no family in Kansas City wants to house a woman refugee). When the boys arrive in Kansas City, the scene shifts abruptly to employment counselor “Carrie” (Reese Witherspoon) in the bedroom with her casual love interest. Although her introduction is slightly melodramatic, an introduction to a star like Reese Witherspoon is somewhat appropriate. Carrie receives a call to pick the boys up and runs off to the airport, pissed off and rushed, to take them back to their rented apartment. After a quick tour, (i.e. “This is the refrigerator. This is how you turn on the lights.”) Carrie says she’ll be back to pick them up to start looking for jobs and leaves the three Sudanese boys looking at each other, wondering: What just happened? Where are we? What is going on?

Act Two takes a relatively predictable course as gruff Carrie slowly gets attached to the three young men and their transition to the United States. We meet Carrie’s boss, Vietnam veteran “Jack,” (Corey Stoll) who lets the boys visit his cattle ranch and get a glimpse of their old lives. The simplicity of dealing with the animals and their recollection of growing up in rural circumstances makes the boys long to go back instead of being stuck in a small apartment in Kansas City. Each boy finds a difficult job, with Jeremiah working as a stock clerk in a grocery store and offended by all the food that goes to waste. Even if it’s one day past expiration, they’re supposed to dump all the food into the dumpster, leading to tensions between the casual attitude Americans have toward privileges and the way a newcomer would look at these privileges. Paul, diligent and great at his factory job, and makes his Kansas City coworkers upset when his efficiency makes them look bad. In an attempt to slow his productivity and progress, the white-boy coworkers take Paul out and give him a joint, pulling him into a drugged-out haze. Mamere’s, meanwhile, is the only one who’s going to school and trying to balance his education while tiredly working as a parking attendant.

The entirety of Act Two is related to their adjustment to their new circumstances and environment, all the while communicating with Abital and becoming concerned with her absence in their lives. Carrie decides to help with the situation and offers her home to Abital so they can all be reunited, but in order to do so, she calls up “Pamela” (Sarah Baker) to help her clean up her messy apartment. The character of Pamela represents the people of the church fronting the money for refugees to come to the United States. People like her not only provide the bulk of the money, but the hands-on-care for refugees coming from all around the world. It’s impossible to underestimate the hands-on role that people in the church have played in making this possible for immigrants coming into the United States and the good work that they do.

The heavy-handed film was very emotional and very good, especially as the boys reunite with Abital in a beautiful, big reunification scene with the four of them together again. The rest of the film deals with their return to Kenya and the troubles refugees encountered after 9/11, from swapping out passports to changing identification – hence the title, The Good Lie. Overall, the film made important points about the way Americans live and amount of things we take for granted.

THE GOOD LIE

Review © Jan Lisa Huttner (10/19/14)

Top Photo: Okwar Jale as “Young Theo” leads his small group of siblings & cousins as they trek from South Sudan towards Kenya.

Bottom Photo from Left:  Arnold Oceng (“Mamere”), Emmanuel Jal (“Paul”), & Ger Duany (“Jeremiah”) begin new lives in Kansas City.

Photo Credits: Bob Mahoney

Q: Does The Good Lie pass the Bechdel Test? DigitalStampA

Yes, but it’s a squeaker.

In one funny scene, a kind woman named “Pamela” (Sarah Baker) who is affiliated with a Church sponsor helps “Carrie” (Reese Witherspoon) clean up her mess of an apartment, and afterwards they down a few too many shots of tequila. A warm and wonderful scene.

Otherwise, Carrie primarily interacts with the “Lost Boys of Sudan” now turned young men.

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Final Photo: Sarah Baker as “Pamela” with Reese Witherspoon as “Carrie,” celebrate the fact that Carrie’s apartment is clean–probably for the very first time!

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THE HERO OF COLOR CITY

Opens today in NYC. Review coming soon.

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MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN

donReview of Men, Women, and Children by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky

Jason Reitman’s outdated, extremist view on the evils of the Internet overshadows any redeeming qualities in Men, Women, and Children. Although there are truthful elements in each storyline, from extra-marital affairs and eating disorders to young love and helicopter parents, the film leans heavily towards melodrama and over-exaggeration.

The story follows families in an “unremarkable suburb” dealing with different problems in their technology-driven world. Independent of each other, “Helen” (Rosemarie DeWitt) and “Don” (Adam Sandler) turn to online dating and escort services to escape their marital rut, while their 15-year-old son “Chris” (Travis Tope) gets his sexual pleasure in online porn. Meanwhile, Chris’ partner for a school project, “Hannah” (Olivia Crocicchia) is posting scantily clad pictures on her modeling website in the hopes of becoming an actress, or better yet, a celebrity. Hannah’s failed-actress mother “Donna” (Judy Greer) is her Webmaster – snapping pictures, posting them, and more or less pimping out her daughter with “private modeling sessions.” It’s not long until Donna reveals her secret site to her divorcée love interest “Kent,” (Dean Norris) after meeting him at the neighborhood’s Internet safety group.

Kent deals with his own problems, however, and tries to get his son “Tim” (Ansel Elgort) back to normal life after his mother left them for California. When Tim finds out via Facebook that his mom is engaged to a new man, he finds comfort in an online role-playing game and companionship with classmate “Brandy” (Kaitlyn Dever). In the sweetest and most enjoyable portion of the film, Tim and Brandy bond over their similar attitudes towards their less-than-ideal mothers and innocently start to fall for each other. But Brandy’s psychotic, overbearing mother “Patricia” (Jennifer Garner) not only disapproves of the new relationship, but changes every password, reads every text, tracks her moves with a GPS, and digitally disguises herself as her daughter to turn Tim away.

In what is supposed to be a realistic take on Patriciaoverprotective parents, the film goes one step too far – with not only Patricia, but every character, including shy and anorexic “Allison” (Elena Kampouris). Wanting the attention of a pigheaded football player, Allison loses weight rapidly and becomes malnourished. She goes on websites with girls typing away advice on how to avoid eating dinner (i.e. smell the Shepherd’s Pie while gnawing on a celery stalk). Although this is an accurate portrayal of a teenage eating disorder, the film (once again) oversteps its realistic boundaries and has Allison sleep with the football player, brand herself with his name on her pelvic area, and then endure an ectopic pregnancy.

The main draw of Men, Women, and Children is the cast – and rightfully so. Although the A-list stars like Sandler and Garner do a fine job as their respective, unfunny characters, the standout performer is Ansel Elgort as the emotionally unstable “Tim.” Coming off of this year’s teen romance juggernaut in The Fault in Our Stars, Elgort nails his role once again and has even more chemistry with Dever than he did with Stars’ Shailene Woodley. The interactions between the long list of characters felt natural, proving that the pitfalls of technology are not the only thing these people have in common. They interact in person on a frequent basis throughout the film, which does even more to counteract Reitman’s and co-writer Erin Cressida Wilson’s views on how technology is ruining us.

The sweet, heart-wrenching moments of the film are well done, but unfortunately, those moments are clouded by the surrounding extremism. Yes, today’s teenagers are addicted to their phones. But no, not every single person at the mall is staring at their gadgets and not speaking to each other. The film was entertaining and the general ideas were there, but showing the Internet as the source of all evil is an cynical, outdated view that maybe would have worked better a decade ago.

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Review © Brigid K. Presecky (10/20/14)

Top Photo: Rosemarie DeWitt as “Helen” and Adam Sandler as “Don”

Middle Photo: Jennifer Garner as “Patricia”

Bottom Photo: Ansel Elgort as “Tim” and Kaitlyn Dever as “Brandy”

Q: Does Men, Women, and Children pass the Bechdel Test?DigitalStampA

Yes. Brandy and her stifling mother Patricia talk about what “protection” means and how being a teenager doesn’t give you the right to any privacy. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Donna and Hannah act more like friends or agent/client more so than mother/daughter. Both relationships are centered on digital problems rather than the men in their lives.

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THE SUPREME PRICE

Opens today in NYC. Review coming soon.

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