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Toronto Film Festival: Adam Sandler on fears of a technological planet

Toronto Film Festival: Adam Sandler on fears of a technological planet
Adam Sandler at a Toronto International Film Festival press conference for "Men, Women and Children." (Hannah Yoon / Associated Press)

Jason Reitman’s new movie “Men, Women and Children” is about the technology-fueled divide between an older and younger generation.

On Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film's actors enacted their own version of that split as Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner and Rosemary DeWitt talked about an apathy toward or fear of newer technology, while 20-year-old costar Ansel Elgort offered some helpful explanations and advice.

"My outreach is stronger than any publication's outreach," Elgort said, urging actors to take control of their online personas by offering select information. "You are your main news platform," he added, noting that if he wanted the public to know something, he could send the information to his nearly 2 million Twitter followers. "No publication has as much power," he said.

DeWitt interjected. "I don't really relate to what you're saying. I don't have any desire to put out to the universe anything about myself."

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Elgort replied, "But it is out there. Everyone's a paparazzi. They put on Instagram that you're at this restaurant and it goes viral."

It was one of several such exchanges surrounding the movie, which Reitman and Erin Cressida-Wilson adapted from Chad Kultgen's novel about schools and suburbs in the sexting age. The film, which hits theaters Oct. 17 and has its world premiere Saturday in Toronto, touches on the ways technology has changed sex and relationships, focusing on the gap between parents and children in addressing these issues.

Elgort said that, in this sense, technology was just a new spin on a timeless tension.

"It is the same thing now as it was years ago — kids just don't want their parents knowing what they're doing," he said. "Parents can't monitor what you're doing on Snapchat. Everyone wants the new thing, everyone wants to be where their mom isn't."

"The second your mom has a Facebook page and is liking your photo, you want to be somewhere else," he added — which, along with the absence of a digital footprint, is why he said so many had been drawn to Snapchat.

Asked Garner of the app, straight-faced, "Is it all naked pictures?"

"It's not naked pictures," Elgort said.

Sandler cut in, in an exaggerated, Sandlery voice: "What the hell are you hiding from us?"

(At one point Garner also said, "Is it Tinder or Tumblr that everyone's on? I don't know the difference." Reitman deadpanned, "There's a huge difference.")

The director said that his movie sought to capture technology's power to overwhelm. "We don't know what we're doing with this technology. It arrived at our feet fully formed," he said, comparing it to the apes discovering the monolith in "2001: A Space Odyssey" or Western civilization at the dawn of cars, only "we skipped the Model-T and went straight to the Ferrari and we don't know how to drive."

Sandler, who rarely speaks to print media, looked slightly uncomfortable at the start but warmed up as the press conference went on.

"I'm still excited the Playboy Channel comes on. It's not on the computer but it's good stuff," he said. "It's pretty awesome what the Internet can give you … the freaky stuff — I'm not sure how to get to it. But when I land on it, it's fun."

He and Garner said they wouldn't conduct vanity searches — mostly. "I don't Google myself until a friend calls me up and says, 'That's rough what they said,'" noted Sandler. Garner added, jokingly, "Am I pregnant?"

Sandler said he didn't engage on social media because "I'm busy doing other stuff." (Elgort quipped: "I'll do it for you.")

But Sandler also said that he saw the value of the Web age. "I didn't open the encyclopedia much … as a kid," he said. "But now you just go boom, boom, boom. I think we're a little smarter now due to this Wikipedia stuff."

Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT

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