The high school reunion is one of those odd rites of passage that is alternately fascinating and depressing.
Who got married? Who got divorced? Who got skinny? Who got fat? Who got rich? Who is unemployed? Who still looks amazing? Who looks even better? Who got bald? Who had kids? Who is an alcoholic? Who achieved the most in the outside world? Who just never let go of high school?
All of these contradictory discoveries about people that you mostly haven’t thought of in years, all set to a soundtrack of golden oldies (which, sadly are not oldies to you), catered with chicken or fish and an open bar until 10:00.
10 Years knows what reunions are like and does a damned good job of making a reunion that is more intriguing than your own one, and yet feels mostly completely real. Well, sorta real. Nothing you hear at reunions are ever totally real and art imitates life in that aspect. Some of the stories in this ensemble piece seem more likely than others, but it’s only rarely that the film feels forced, which is a good record for anything reunion-centric.
It’s essentially one of those old-fashioned ensemble pieces, looking at over a dozen high-school friends and their significant others returning to their midwestern home town (except for the few who never left) four their 10 year reunion.
It mostly centers on Jake (Channing Tatum, who also developed and produced the film), a local-sports-star-turned-mortgage broker who is in love with his gorgeous fiancée Jess (played by his wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum). Still, he has some unresolved feelings for his high school love Mary (Rosario Dawson), who shows up with her slightly older husband (Ron Livingston).
His best friend was Cully (Chris Platt), another former star-athlete and the school bully who has become a local family man with his patient high school girlfriend Sam (Ari Graynor). In his overbearing way, Cully tries to make up to the students he bullied years before, but his insecurity and his alcoholism just makes him look worse than ever.
Anna (Lynn Collins) was the high school’s party girl, who is returning to relive her glory days in a life that did not turn out quite the way she expected. She is followed all night by two dorky friends Marty and AJ (Justin Long and Max Minghella) who want to finally score with the school’s wild girl, who they both always had a crush on.
Reeves (Oscar Isaacs) is the local celebrity, a popular John Mayer/Jason Mraz-type singer whose biggest hit was written about his unrequited high school crush, the cute and quirky outsider Elise (Kate Mara).
Then there are several others, including Scott (Scott Porter), a friend who is back home from Japan with his pregnant girlfriend Suki (Eiko Nijo), Garrity (Brian Geraghty), the former white-rap kid whose wife (Aubrey Plaza) has her eyes opened to his old secrets, Julie (Kelly Noonan), the uptight hostess of the reunion and Andre (Anthony Mackie) the local lothario who has not grown up a bit.
It’s a lot of characters and a lot of plot juggling, but 10 Years does a pretty good job of keeping all its balls in the air.
Tatum, who is certainly the biggest name in this interesting and deep cast, is generous and brave with his co-stars, not only allowing all of them moments to shine, but also allowing Jake some foolish choices (and allowing him to look puffily normal and beer-bellied, certainly going against the star’s recent Magic Mike buffness.)
It is all handled deftly by first-time director Jamie Linden, a screenwriter who had previously worked with Tatum on Dear John.
Is some of this ridiculous? Sure. Like Elise never listened to a song that seems to have been a huge hit by an old friend and realized it was about her? Why would Marty and AJ, even drunk, think that Anna would find it funny that they TP’ed her house? But sometimes you have to give in to the story, and if you do, 10 Years offers some sweet and charming nostalgia that many of us can relate to.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 7, 2012.