There's a fundamental flaw to this multi-strand social media-themed drama: it's told completely from the perspective of older people who are fearful about the possibilities, rather than the generation for whom electronic communication is the norm. It's well-made by director Jason Reitman (age 36) and his cowriter Erin Cressida Wilson (50) from the novel by Chad Kultgen (38), but it kind of misses the point that this is the future of human interaction. So younger (or more switched-on) viewers won't buy the cautionary message.
IR's set in Austin, Texas, where Rachel and Don (Rosemarie DeWitt and Adam Sandler) are each so focussed on finding space outside their marriage that they don't notice that their teen son Chris (Travis Tope) is hanging out with self-proclaimed slutty cheerleader Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia). Her best friend Allison (Elena Kamporis) is starving herself to be like her, spurred on by her mother (Judy Greer), who is doing everything she can to make Allison a star. Meanwhile, Patricia (Jennifer Garner) is desperate to control how her daughter Brandy (Kaitkyn Dever) uses small-screens, especially worried about her growing friendship with Tim (Ansel Elgort), whose father (Dean Norris) is annoyed that he has quit the school football team.
Oddly, the film seems to adopt the adults' fears as its central tone: the internet and mobile phone communications are potentially dangerous, addictive and isolating. But this makes the film feel more like a sermon than a set of intertwined stories. A far more interesting approach would be to explore how communication and relationships are shifting due to the influence of online media. Indeed, the generational aspects to the films various plotlines are the most compelling elements, with clashing points of view between grown-ups and kids. But audience members who believe that mobile phones and social media sites are the future will struggle with the way Reitman presents them as inherently troublesome.
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