COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 59min
STARRING: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Judy Greer
Virtual reality: DeWitt and Sandler
Director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno) isn’t afraid to underscore the fallout from technology’s sneaky reach with thick, black ink in his dispassionate adaptation of Chad Kultgen’s 2011 novel. Whether it be an online porn–addicted dad (Sandler), his sexually dissatisfied wife (DeWitt), their teenage son (Travis Tope) who is going the same road as his father, a celebrity-fixated mother and daughter (Greer and Olivia Crocicchia) or a destructively hyper-protective parent (Garner), one way or another these characters are rarely not plugged in. So, too, are the disillusioned high-school football star (Ansel Elgort) addicted to internet role-playing games and the scrawnball (Elena Kampouris) who hangs off online words of anorexic wisdom…
Reitman neatly plugs us in right along with them. How involving that is comes down to individual tolerance for (a) electronic devices and (b) social-media networking as compensation for listless suburban malaise. And I do mean listless. The misguided adults are diffident and cautious while the teenage hook-ups have a kind of shrugging tone, as though technology has leached everyone of RL (real life, people!). It’s a stinging vision and techies will cry foul. But that sting feels awfully real.