Teaser for Jason Reitman’s ‘Men, Women & Children’ sets moody internet-era tone

The last time Paramount Pictures tried a Jason Reitman film on the awards season, it was last year's “Labor Day.” I thought it was an impressive bit of stretching from the director and was happy to see a certain sect of critics find value in it. Alas, that was a minority view, as most took aim on the film and fired either at Telluride or Toronto and a misguided December release date finished it off after that. But everyone is back up to the plate this year with the Chad Kultgen adaptation “Men, Women & Children,” and the first teaser trailer for the film has arrived to set the tone.

Paced to a moody Plantains cover of Donna Summer's “I Feel Love” (a ubiquitous track last year in everything from “Gloria” to “American Hustle”), the teaser establishes the film's melancholy world of disconnected people, faces in devices, emotionally detached from everything around them. That's one of the ideas Reitman was interested in exploring with the film, that the internet era was meant to somehow connect society, yet the anonymity of the web and the sense of faux community it has established in everything from “World of Warcraft” avatars to Facebook “activism” to online escort review services has allowed us to push further and further away from the personal. (Similar themes were explored by director Henry Alex Rubin in last year's “Disconnect.”)

That's just one concept at play, though, as Carl Sagan's “Pale Blue Dot” ends up playing a significant role in noting how massive and dramatic our lives may feel from day to day, yet how meaningless and fleeting they are in a broader spectrum. Reitman has been working with the effects team from “Gravity,” if you can believe it, on a handful of sequences that will flash to the Voyager 1 probe as Emma Thompson's sporadic narration guides that theme along.

The film will be a true ensemble, with no one actor standing out as particularly leading the pack (i.e., don't expect a major leading turn from Adam Sandler or anything here). So with everyone from Sandler to Rosemarie DeWitt to Judy Greer to Dean Norris to Jennifer Garner, not to mention the film's array of younger actors (Ansel Elgort, Kaitlyn Dever, etc.) working toward an organic whole, it might make it difficult for the studio to catch a campaign stride with any of them. But the whole enterprise could nevertheless end up being a significant zeitgeist play at the end of the day, a space no one is really toying with this season.

You'll note from the trailer that it asks “What do you Whisper?” and directs viewers to use the #MWC hashtag on the anonymous social network. Paramount has partnered with the app as a way of targeting an audience that, surely, would be interested in the content of this film.

As reported yesterday, “Men, Women & Children” will open limited on Oct. 3 and expand wide on Oct. 17.

Check out the new teaser embedded at the top of this post and tell us what you think.