Men, Women & Children

Jason Reitman’s latest Oscar bait reaches for the zeitgeist like no Hollywood movie since American Beauty (1999), and you have to give him credit for thinking big even though he drives the theme into your skull with a ball-peen hammer. In a white, middle-class Anytown, USA, high school students and their unhappy parents live their lives almost completely online, the disconnection and dishonesty of text messaging and Facebook posts corrupting their most precious relationships. Adapted from a novel by Chad Kultgen, this is one of those rare movies that gets better instead of worse as it progresses from comedy to drama; once Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air) has finished zinging his characters for their self-absorption, their chronic loneliness and insecurity prove rich material for the able cast (especially Rosemarie DeWitt, Judy Greer, and Dean Norris). Emma Thompson supplies the stilted omniscient voice-over narration; with Jennifer Garner, Adam Sandler, Dennis Haysbert, J.K. Simmons, and Olivia Crocicchia.