Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt and Judy Greer say Jason Reitman film made them consider what they were modeling for their kids.
Jennifer Garner’s latest film isn’t a horror, but it scared the heck out of her.
“Men, Women & Children,” a dramedy opening Wednesday, is a cautionary tale about kids and the pitfalls of technology.
The movie “made us take a good, hard look at what we’re modeling for our kids, and remind them that a person in front of you is more important than the person [they connect to virtually],” says the 42-year-old actress and mother of three with husband Ben Affleck.
In the film, directed by Jason Reitman (“Juno,” “Up in the Air”), L.A. teens Chris (Travis Tope) and Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia) carry on a sexting relationship that’s echoed by the tech-obsessed adults in their lives. Chris’s dad Don (Adam Sandler) is more into online porn than he is his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt), leading to her exploring online partners herself. And Hannah’s mom (Judy Greer) posts provocative pics of her wannabe-model daughter on a website. Then there’s Patricia (Garner), who delves too deep into her daughter Brandy’s (Kaitlyn Dever) social network.
DeWitt and Greer agree with Garner that the Internet adds another level to monitoring and protecting children.
“Being a parent, initially the Internet [seems] so scary,” DeWitt says. “But for the [kid actors] in the movie, it’s not a story about technology — it’s just a movie. They’ve never lived in a world without technology. You realize that you have to be the one to tell your kids what it’s for, and teach them about it.”
Greer sees the anonymity of even mainstream social networks as a formidable force.
“Social media is like a curtain,” Greer says. “And you can say anything you want behind that curtain because you don’t show your face.”
The issue manifests itself most in cyberbullying, Greer believes. Yet Garner’s character succumbs to inappropriateness of a different sort.
“I really saw Patricia as coming from a place of love and fear, and that’s a really powerful combination,” Garner says. “As a parent, you can do some pretty crazy things from that place. You just want to do what’s best for your kids.”
The negatives of living a life online of course aren’t relegated to the fictional world of “Men, Women & Children.” Last week, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and actresses Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good, Kate Bosworth and Vanessa Hudgens had nude selfies allegedly leaked online, following an incident weeks earlier that saw Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, among others, fall victim to a hacking scandal.
Garner shrugged off any threat, noting that, “I don’t really have anything that exciting on my phone, [but] I certainly hope I’m not hacked because there’s surly stuff I wouldn’t love to be out there.”
DeWitt says she sympathizes with her character, who’s left to her own devices when her husband turns off to her.
“The issues they were going through are no different than generations before, but the tools are different,” DeWitt says. “My character might not have been the type of woman bold enough to go to a singles bar to meet someone, so she used the Internet.”
In real life, DeWitt says she tries not to bring her cell when she goes out “because I find myself looking at it [for no reason],” while Garner notes that she must remind herself to disconnect.
“It’s actually harder to do than you would think,” Garner says. “I’m embarrassed to say I have to tell my brain in a really stern voice, ‘Put the phone down.’”
Garner adds that she and Affleck still keep things a little old-fashioned in their home.
“We actually have rotary phones in our house that Ben bought off of eBay, and they’re the worst — especially if you try to click over to another call!”