A high school classmate recently lamented that our ten year reunion had come and gone without celebration and that our fifteenth was probably not going to happen. Classmates wondered if anyone had the energy between work and babies to put one together, and I wondered if in the age of Facebook and other social media, people even organize high school reunions anymore. There was something dated about seeing friends get really excited about seeing friends, as if status updates, texting, and video chat didn’t exist. But maybe more to point, real life interaction is a cause for enthusiasm these days, and that is, for better or worse, a good reason to hold reunions and maybe even to make a film about one.
10 Years does everything you would expect from the genre, relying on familiar character types and situations. Jake (Channing Tatum) anchors the piece as a mortgage broker and erstwhile prom king. He wants to propose to his girlfriend (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) but has been waffling for no good reason. The unexpected appearance of his ex Mary (Rosario Dawson) is made more awkward when she arrives with her husband (Ron Livingston).
Jake also reconnects with his circle of friends, including high school sweethearts Cully (Chris Pratt) and Sam (Ari Graynor). They are married with children, but Cully still acts like one when he gets drunk. This results in obnoxious and failed attempts to apologize to former classmates for being a bully. High fliers Marty (Justin Long) and AJ (Max Minghella) don’t fare too well either. Though they are living deluxe, they don’t seem to have progressed past a college mentality and spend the night trying to show off to the hot girl Anna (Lynn Collins). When that doesn’t work, they end up pulling a prank you probably tried in grade school.
A few thankfully come off as well adjusted adults. Musician Reeves (Oscar Isaac) is the one who made it big. Despite his fame, he still has a crush on loner Elise (Kate Mara), and the two spend the evening in simmering flirtation. Meanwhile, Scott (Scott Porter) is happily settled in Japan with a positive attitude and few regrets. I can’t say this is the case for everyone, but way to take one for the expat team.
There are too many characters for any one to progress beyond a label, even ten years on. Also, the added presence of two non-white characters only serves to develop the others. Peter (Aaron Yoo) gets the brunt of Cully’s abuse while Andre (Anthony Mackie) emphasizes his white friend’s (Brian Geraghty) sliding scale of blackness. Still, a few performances stand out; Collins is in fine Juilliard form as the prom queen whose happily ever after turned out differently than she expected, and even Tatum appears judiciously restrained as the de facto central character.
The pedestrian nature of this film ends up being its saving grace. Unlike other reunion movies, 10 Years doesn’t strain itself to recreate an era or to make overwhelming assessments about its characters’ lives. It allows them to casually reveal some flaws and successes while hiding others. The best thing about it is its aching averageness, which better approximates not only a high school reunion but real life. No one is really a stunner, and in the Facebook age where people thrive on the pretense of perfection, it’s satisfying to see that most of us are just like everyone else. We still want to fit in, we are still trying to sort out our lives, and we still care about our friends. Maybe your own ten year reunion was more exciting, but for those of us who have yet to attend one, this movie is a fine substitute.
“Never Had” penned and sung by Oscar Isaac
Prod: Marty Bowen, Reid Carolin, Wyck Godfrey, Channing Tatum
Dir: Jamie Linden
Writer: Jamie Linden
Cast: Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Chris Pratt, Oscar Isaac, Justin Long, Max Minghella, Kate Mara, Lynn Collins, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Ari Graynor, Scott Porter, Brian Geraghty, Anthony Mackie, Aubrey Plaza, Aaron Yoo, Nick Zano, Ron Livingston
Time: 100 min
Country: United States