By Gary Goldstein, Special to Tribune Newspapers
September 20, 2012
The largely engaging class-reunion dramedy "10 Years" allows audiences to pretend they went to high school with the likes of Channing Tatum, Justin Long, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Mackie and Kate Mara. But at some point, they are also going to have to pretend the film, written and directed by Jamie Linden (the screenwriter of "Dear John" and the fine "We Are Marshall"), is deeper and more essential than it actually is; there's a lot of been-there, done-that going on.
That said, this very distant, slightly more youthful cousin to "The Big Chill" presents a convincing version of a 10-year high school reunion, one that eschews excess and melodrama for a wistful visit with a clutch of decent men and women who've chugged forward over the last decade, some more happily — and expectedly — than others.
With an ensemble cast this large, it's inevitable that some characters will get short shrift while others will rack more focus. Tatum's Jake, a cool dude-turned-mortgage broker, emerges as the nominal main character (the Kevin Kline of the piece, if you will), with the matter of will-he-or-won't-he pop the question to lovely girlfriend Jess (Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Channing's real-life wife), providing some narrative juice.
Jake's marital resolve is further tested when ex-flame — and former prom date — Mary (Dawson) shows up at the party with her older, buttoned-up husband (a wasted Ron Livingston). Jake and Mary dance around their sad, unfinished past with the kind of warmth and integrity that informs the better parts of Linden's script.
Also poignant is the story of Reeves (Oscar Isaac), a humble, now-famous musician whose hit song about his elusive teenage crush on a quiet, yellow-shod girl surprises and — not surprisingly — wins over old classmate Elise (Mara, luminous), when she learns she was the tune's inspiration. Really, what woman could resist?
Other reunion-goers include competitive pals Marty (Long) and AJ (Max Minghella), who each try to impress sexy party girl Anna (Lynn Collins); the handsome, ebullient Scott (Scott Porter), who, now living in Japan with wife Suki (Eiko Nijo), is one of the group's few regret-free members; and, in a nice twist, lumpy family man Cully (Chris Pratt), who uses the gathering as an awkward — and increasingly drunken — apology tour to the various nerds (including Aaron Yoo's dismissive Pete) he once harassed, as his patient if mortified wife (Ari Graynor) looks on.
More ill-conceived is the strand involving Garrity ("The Hurt Locker's" Brian Geraghty), whose wife (Aubrey Plaza) is startled to learn from his old buddy, Andre (Anthony Mackie, way underused), that the sweet white boy she married once displayed a lot more, shall we say, soul.
As the action moves from hotel banquet room to hometown bar and finally the local diner, a handful of truths are revealed, some adult decisions are made and life will largely go on as it was before the evening began.
That doesn't make "10 Years" particularly earth-shattering, just authentic.
'10 Years' -- 3 stars
MPAA rating: PG-13 (for language, alcohol abuse, some sexual material and drug use)
Running time: 1:40
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