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Before Sunday morning’s screening of his newest film, director Jason Reitman took the stage to welcome the audience assembled. He explained that he wanted to look at the way the internet has changed our lives – especially in the way that it arrived fully formed. His analogy was as if instead of The Ford Model T, the first car on the roads was a Ferrari. Without knowing the power of what we had built or the damage that could come of it, we unleashed something dangerous out into a world that might not have been ready for it.

It’s an interesting analogy, since Reitman himself seems to be have trouble keeping the car on the road in MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN.

The story surrounds the way several people in a small Texan town. There’s a married couple whose bedroom has long since gone dead, but who still find themselves sexually wanting. There’s mother who monitors every last move her daughter makes online, and urges other parents to do likewise. There’s a mother and daughter who believe that the best way for the teenaged girl to get herself famous by posting saucy photos of herself on her own website. And there’s a teenage boy who – in the wake of his mother running out on he and his dad – walks away from his role as a star football player, and dives headlong into World of Warcraft-esque ORPG.

There are more characters doing more things, but that’s part of what holds the film back.

I’d never go so far as to suggest MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN is a bad movie. However, I will say that it’s a messy one. The story itself decides to juggle so many pins at once, that it’s inevitable that one or two get dropped…and they do. The pity in that isn’t that they get dropped, it’s that they are good ideas, and potentially poignant threads to the story. Two of the stories that seem the least developed include one girl whose online interactions fuel her body issues, and one boy whose online interactions slant his sense of sexual arousal. Both of these topics are hugely important to the conversation, but there just isn’t enough time on the clock to properly explore them.

Meanwhile, what we do get to fully explore feels checkered. Watching Kaitlyn Dever and Ansel Elgort interact is a beautiful thing. Both young actors bring an innocence and fragility to the scene that always feels beautiful. Their relationship sings with possibilities – that after years of not knowing who they wanted to be, that they’d finally connected with someone who would bring out the best in them. Unfortunately, that is juxtaposed with Jennifer Garner’s somewhat-shrill cybercop mother, and while I believe this person does exist out there in the world, Garner’s story needs a bit more texture to work.

MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN is worth a watch, but many will come away with more questions than answers. Part of me believes that we aren’t actually ready to tell this story yet because we haven’t even come close to touching bottom on how the internet is affecting our attitude towards sex and love.

It’s a noble effort by Reitman, and one that may in fact age well in the years to come, but at the moment he’s pulling the Ferrari into the garage with a few more scratches in it than there were when he pulled it out.