Men, Women & Children is a 2015 film, directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking) and co-written by Reitman & Erin Cressida Wilson. Like Thank You For Smoking and Reitman's more recent film, Up in the Air, it is adapted from a book.
The movie deals with identity, relationships, secrets, and what people choose to share with each other in an age of highly immersive digital devices.
This movie provides examples of:
- The Film of the Book: Something of a theme with Reitman's movies. This one was written by Chad Kultgen.
- Genre Savvy: Brandy knows her mom well enough that when she says that she's going over to a friend's house (but actually is sneaking out to meet with Tim) she leaves the phone at the friend's house so it'll look like she stayed there if her mom tracks her, and she's genuinely surprised her mom never called
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The escort Don hires is nice, if in a somewhat professional way
- Knight Templar: Patricia.
- Logical Fallacies: After all-star Tim quits the football team, they (understandably) slip in performance. When they start losing one too many games in a season, students begin to blame Tim directly for not returning to play. He pointedly asks how it's his fault an entire team is losing. Given that these are high schoolers, "it just is" would be about the best response he could expect.
- Moral Guardians: Basically just Patricia alone, but she tries to recruit more parents to her cause by handing out fliers, hosting meetings, and hitting every checkmark in the book. And yes, she thinks video games are all equally awful.
- My Beloved Smother: Brandy's mom is highly invasive into her daughter's digital interactions and online life, even going so far as to delete messages from peers before Brandy has a chance to read them.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Patricia has this moment after she sees Brandy with Tim in the hospital after Tim's suicide attempt.
- Narrator: Emma Thompson's omniscient voice adds some small amount of dignity and respect to the story, right up until she begins to describe the sheer depths of Chris' porn depravity. At which point you may begin laughing uncontrollably from the dissonance. She also disappears for about the latter third of the movie, when things are reaching a dramatic peak, only making a brief return at the very end.
- New Media Are Evil: Patricia clearly believes this. The movie would appear to agree; the fact that it hammers this trope rather hard was a point of criticism for many viewers and reviewers.
- Pac-Man Fever: It's a fairly important plot point, but Guild Wars 2 does not have subscription fees. Maybe somebody at Kent's credit card company just lied to get him off the phone?
- Pop-Up Texting: A major visual theme of the film. In crowd scenes, people brush past each other as their intimate or mundane conversations float by their heads, websites aren't always cut back-and-forth between anymore, and after one character has a very emotional moment and is near tears, they open a text prompt but just leave the header blinking for awhile before the scene cuts out.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite attending Patricia's anti-electronics/online parents meeting, Kent's not really disparaging of his son's new hobby, and understands he needed an outlet after his mother up and left for California. He just misses the two having football to share as a mutual past-time.
- Stage Mom: Both played straight and subverted for Donna. Yes, she's encouraging and propping up her daughter to be a starlet (like she once tried to be), but not with an overly huge amount of stressful pressure. And when Hannah has an opportunity for a break spoiled by her adult website, Donna has to put her foot down and remind Hannah what's really important in her life, and that regardless of how bad she might want fame, Donna is her mother and will play the responsible parent if need be.
- Straw Nihilist: Tim, oh good grief Tim. He even cites Carl Sagan and our place on the Insignificant Little Blue Planet for good measure. To be fair, he's 1) in high school and 2) just recently had his mother up and leave to go to California with her new lover. That'd make anyone question the point of things.
- Weight Woe: Allison's room is plastered with images of ultra-thin models, and she visits a social website dedicated to "thinspirational" messages where the members help each other from breaking their fasts and crash diets. Given how skinny Allison appears, versus the appearance of the other women in her immediate family, anecdotal mention that she's "lost weight" since the summer and the eventual word from a doctor that she's actually "malnourished," it's going straight into Self-Harm territory.
- Your Cheating Heart: The Trubys are dealing with a cooled period in their marriage. A commercial for AshleyMadison.com is scoffed at early in the film, but leaves lingering ideas in both of their heads. Helen ends up starting affairs through the website, while Don just visits an escort; when he recognizes Helen's blouse from her profile picture on a randomized ad, he doesn't confront her directly beyond letting her know he knows, and suggesting they both just move forward from their mutual indiscretions.