Ex-classmates turn nostalgic in solid ‘10 Years’
BY RICHARD ROEPER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST September 20, 2012 7:43PM
Jake Channing Tatum
Mary Rosario Dawson
Cully Chris Pratt
Elise Kate Mara
Jess Jenna Dewan-Tatum
Reeves Oscar Isaacs
Anchor Bay presents a film written and directed by Jamie Linden. Running time: 100 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for language, alcohol abuse, some sexual material and drug use). Opening Friday at local theaters.
Updated: October 22, 2012 6:15AM
When Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Anthony Mackie, Kate Mara and Rosario Dawson are all in the room for a 10-year reunion, you can’t help thinking: Gee, they must have gone to Good-Lookin’ High!
That’s some appealing cast, all delivering fine work in “10 Years,” one of those movies that takes an overworked premise and indulges in some predictable setups, yet still manages to surprise and entertain throughout.
Whether it’s former college pals thrown together for a funeral (“The Big Chill”), ex-classmates from high school determined to show their old friends they’ve made something of themselves (“Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion”) or black comedy set against the backdrop of a nostalgic get-together (“Grosse Point Blank”), the reunion movie is such a staple, it takes a certain hubris to even tap that keg again. But thanks to a terrific cast and the smart, fresh vision of writer/director Jamie Linden, “10 Years” is a solid if unspectacular reworking of a familiar song.
With high school reunions, there are two kinds of people: those who mark the date on the calendar a year in advance, and those who delete the e-vite faster than if they’d received an offer to send money to the widow of a Nigerian millionaire.
Among that former group, there are two subsets: those who run around all night hugging old friends, grooving to the hits from senior year and talking about how it was the best time of their lives — and those who spend half the night telling everyone they weren’t even sure they were going to come. In “10 Years,” Jake (Channing Tatum’) and Scott (Scott Porter — good casting!) are among those in the former group, while Elise (Kate Mara) and Mary (Rosario Dawson) are the most reluctant attendees. Elise was one of those “invisible girls” in high school who’s barely in any of the photos plastered throughout the banquet hall, and Mary is now happily married but still harboring tender feelings for Jake — who’s considering a proposal of his own.
Since you didn’t go to high school with these people, you might already be losing track of the characters and asking for name tags — but to Linden’s credit, he nimbly juggles a dozen characters and nearly that many story lines in a clean, neat fashion that makes it fairly easy to keep track of everyone’s backstory and everyone’s agenda.
Jenna Dewan-Tatum plays Jess, Jake’s longtime girlfriend, who didn’t go to school with this group but is there for moral support. (No surprise, husband and wife have a comfortable onscreen dynamic.)
Chris Pratt plays a jerkier version of the usual Chris Pratt character. There’s a real melancholy behind this guy’s drunken antics as he pathetically tries to make amends with the geeks he bullied in high school.
Mary is Jake’s ex, who shows up with her straight-arrow husband. The resolution of the Jake-Mary love story, which ended due to circumstances beyond their control, is deeply touching and feels just right.
And there’s a terrifically engaging story line involving Reeves (Oscar Isaac). He’s a pop star who has a “Hey There Delilah”-type hit that was written about one of his classmates, who might be the only person at the reunion unaware of the song. (When Issac performs the song, “Never Had,” in its entirety, you think: Yup, sounds like a real pop hit. It’s a lovely number.)
At times “10 Years” is too heavy-handed and predictable, as with the story thread involving a former life of the party. And some of the actors handle the improv-like dialogue better than others. But days after the party ended, I found myself wondering where these characters would be when their 20th reunion rolled around. At least one married couple would likely be near-strangers, and two former classmates who had lost touch could be very well be celebrating a 10-year anniversary of sorts by that point. Whatever the outcome, that’s a reunion movie I’d be quick to attend.