Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children will skip Telluride, head to Toronto and open to the public shortly thereafter. Jeff Wells off Tapley’s exclusive:
Paramount will pop Jason Reitman‘s Men, Women & Children limited on10.3 or about…what, three weeks after it plays at the Toronto Film Festival? Wide break on 10.17. The news was broken by In Contention‘s Kris Tapley. Teens, oddball parents, infidelity, online porn, icky impulsives, maybe a stray predator or two. Directed, produced by Rietman. Based on a darkish book by the somewhat libidinal-minded Chad Kultgen. Cowritten by Reitman and Erin Cressida Wilson. Adam Sandler, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ansel Elgort, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, J.K. Simmons, Dennis Haysbert. I’ll be watching for comparisons to Henry Alex Rubin‘s Disconnect, which dealt with similar material.
You can’t really blame them for both skipping Telluride and opening the film early, considering Labor Day was shown in Telluride last year in September, then had to wait until the following January to open to the public, skipping Oscar season entirely after film critics gave it their united thumbs down. That was particularly a bummer for me — since New York mag used that movie as an example of Yours Truly being too effusive at Telluride for what would turn out to be a bad film. It was taken as common knowledge that Labor Day was a “bad movie.” In typical critic/blogger fashion, it becomes cool to be on a certain side and in this case it was on the side that thoroughly trashed Reitman’s sentimental fantasy about an unlikely, magically surreal love affair.
Here’s the thing about movies and I want you all to remember this because lord knows the critics, for the most part, are not going to teach you. You read? Here it is. Most of the time, you have to bring something with you when you see a film. That something is your own imagination. Sometimes you have to lean into art, all art but film especially. The critics are supposed to evaluate it to the best of their ability – I mean, I guess? But you should always know that when you read a review you are, to a degree, reading that person. It just so happens that I know a lot of the people who reviewed Labor Day – I know them personally and I look at their reviews and I think, “well of course.” But a person who didn’t know them would assume that their reviews are to be taken at face value, that they aren’t a subjective reading of something that is highly personal.
So long after I’m gone please remember these two things: Think for yourself, take all reviews of film (and any art) with a grain of salt.
It wasn’t just that Labor Day got bad reviews. It was one of those movies that inspires reviews as though it was the asshole who just broke up with the film critics — male and female. It was one of those they had to harpoon — not just harpoon but stab in the jugular — and then stomp on its corpse as blood sprayed out from all sides.
Reading those reviews and remembering the movie I saw is one of those moments throughout the year that makes no sense, both looking back on it now and what it will look like to look back on it ten years from now. These critics took it PERSONALLY. Why? I have no idea. This is one of the many reasons I could never and would never call myself a FILM CRITIC. It seems to me they spend their time trying to find something wrong with the car they were asked to test drive. People say it’s necessary, okay fine. So it’s necessary. I find very little value in a negative review. All it seems to do is tell me a lot about the person writing it. I hope that you, dear readers, always think for yourself or don’t think at all.
I genuinely liked Labor Day, and found it to be a wonderfully brave move for the normally sardonic Reitman. It was a fantasy, sure, but what’s wrong with that? I ‘ll tell you what’s wrong with it: it highlighted just how slanted film coverage is towards the male perspective.
Being released in January, with no awards hype, nothing but a cold slap in the face for Reitman and crew, the film earned just $13 mil. I hope that it was worth it. I hope that the critics feel that they slayed the dragon that was threatening the delicate sensibilities of movie goers everywhere. Here’s hoping Reitman’s new film puts him back on track and motivates him to make more movies about women.