Jason Reitman provides, if nothing else, consistently interesting movies. His two best films (Juno, Young Adult) are very much a mixture of voices: Reitman proves adept at finding the uncompromising emotion in Diablo Cody’s writing, utilizes Cody-isms with delicate balance and flavour, and finds actors with strong personalities that make the movie their own. When his perspective shines stronger, in adaptations of his own screenplays, the results are more mixed; Up in the Air was quite good and occasionally powerful, if relatively uninteresting and broad in comparison to the Reitman movies that surround it, and Labor Day left the majority of critics either puzzled, or puzzled and delighted. (I’ve yet to see it, but the idea of an Americana Atame! still leaves me intrigued.)
Jason Reitman, then, is what leaves me fascinated with the trailer for Men, Women & Children, co-written with Erin Cressida Wilson of Atom Egoyan’s Chloe. There’s something utterly disposable about it – it’s one in a long line of ensemble films, the most infamous being Crash, that try to pierce the heart of the modern age – usually missing the mark completely. The trailer is very reminiscent of an earlier one for Disconnect (2012), substituting its thriller tones for complete melodrama. But the Men, Women & Children trailer is something very special. A morose cover of one of the world’s campiest songs sets the tone. Nearly every shot has a smartphone, a laptop, or a mid-air chat bubble graphic. Adam Sandler looks online for an escort. Teenagers text about S&M. Judy Greer has self-esteem issues. Cyber-bullying leads to consequences. Jennifer Garner looks at things with a sad face. And, with satisfying irony, the trailer ends with a twitter hashtag and a Whisper tie-in. It’s already hilarious, but judging by the trailer, there’s no doubt every single thing in the movie will be humourously dated in five years or so; its flaw seems to be that it tries to analyze our zeitgeist, and all the hot-button issues of today, rather than the people wrapped up in it. Normally, I would dismiss this type of film as a trite mess; but with Reitman on board, as both director and writer, it should prove to be an interesting mess.