10 Years (2011)
“Who Got Fat? Who Didn’t Change? Who Got Rich? Who Got Hot?”
Director: Jamie Linden
Cast: Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Chris Pratt
Synopsis: The night before their high school reunion, a group of friends realize they still haven’t quite grown up in some ways.
Usually, reunion movies are as far removed from the real thing as most other cinematic depictions of life. In the movie reunions, life lessons are invariably learned and the briefly reunited characters depart as better people in some way; in reality most people merely end up drunk and in possession of a fresh appreciation of just why they couldn’t stand most of their childhood classmates. In the real world, people attend school reunions to see who got fat, who got bald, and to secretly gloat over those whose lives are less successful than their own; in the movies, people seek to attend to unfinished business, whether it’s unrequited love, relationships left hanging, or apologies for past offences to be made. In a way, 10 Years unintentionally manages to capture a little of both sides of the screen in that it comprises of long periods in the company of people we don’t really care about during which very little of interest happens, punctuated by briefly glimpsed incidents that momentarily grab our attention.
10 Years follows the exploits of a group of late-twenty-somethings as they attend their 10 year reunion. They’re the usual mixed bunch: Jake (Channing Tatum — 21 Jump Street) is the popular kid who has surprised everyone by settling for a boring career as a mortgage broker, and who’s had an engagement ring for his girlfriend (Tatum’s real-life wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum) in the glove compartment of his car for eight months now. Jake’s half-hoping his ex-girlfriend, Mary (Rosario Dawson — 25th Hour, Trance) won’t show because he still has feelings for her, but of course she makes the inevitable unexpected (for Jake, anyway) appearance — with her much older husband Paul (Ron Livingston) in tow. Also attending are Cully (Chris Pratt), a former school bully intent on apologising to all his victims, and his long-suffering wife, Sam (Ari Gaynor), who’s also a former pupil. Marty (Justin Long) and AJ (Max Minghella — Agora, The Darkest Hour) are a couple of nerds who both appear to have made successes of their lives to date, and who find themselves competing for the attentions of Anna (Lynn Collins — 50 First Dates), the girl who was the class life and soul of the party, and therefore previously out of their league; Reeves (Oscar Isaac – Agora) is perhaps the most obviously successful as he’s enjoyed chart success with a self-penned song about unrequited love, while Elise (Kate Mara) is the shy class loner who is the unknowing subject of that song.
In addition to this collection, there are incredibly a further half dozen or so peripheral figures to whom such neglible attention is paid that you’re left wondering why writer-director Jamie Linden even bothered to include them. Presumably, it was because he wanted to cover all possible bases regarding the le pitfalls lying in wait for unsuspecting high school graduates and felt that he couldn’t do so adequately with just the aforementioned characters. The problem is, Linden has already over-reached with the ten or so key characters who share roughly equal screen time. The movie only runs for 83 minutes (although it feels like a lot longer), and trying to tell each character’s story in satisfying detail in that short running time just isn’t possible. And, to be honest, those upon whom Linden chooses to dwell are something of a dull bunch who spend an inordinate amount of time talking about themselves.
In Linden’s defence, he does at least resist the temptation to provide a neat and tidy ending to each story. The wretched Cully and his wife look as if their evening is following a depressingly familiar pattern, and that there are a few more similar nights ahead of them before things finally come to a head, and a quickie in the back of a car for another couple offers no guarantees of any kind of relationship beyond that back-seat fumbling. But 10 Years otherwise offers an irritatingly incomplete picture of the lives of its assortment of characters and provides rather predictable arcs to their seemingly never-ending evening.