Overlooked Film of the Week-#48
If I asked all my high school friends about their plans to attend our ten year high school reunion sometime in 2018, I bet I'd get mixed results. Though I'd be very curious to see who said no and who said yes. I'd also be curious to ask them again once 2018 actually rolled around. As I look back at my life now, I am amazed at just how fast I grew up, how quickly I am on the verge of being 25 years of age. Its completely mysterious to me how fast life vanishes and how little time we actually get to cherish our young years. I know, I sound like I am 70, but sometimes I do stop, take a step back and say "Wow, I am not in college anymore or high school or anything of the sort. I am in the real world." I never have, but I wonder how many people would change something if they could back in time to their high school or even college times, or how people would reflect, and how perspectives of friends and people you knew changed over the years or how people surprised you.
"10 Years" is exactly about that. A group of friends who all hung out in high school are regrouping for their big 10 year high school reunion. We meet Jake (Channing Tatum) who brings his long-time girlfriend Jess (Jenna Dewan) to his reunion. Jake feels pretty confident that he will propose to Jess soon, but will that all come crumbling down when his old high flame Mary (Rosario Dawson) shows up? We meet Marty (Justin Long) and AJ (Max Minghella) the latter tries to help his friend score with popular girl that got away. There is Cully (Chris Pratt) who was a big jerk in high school and feels compelled to apologize for his mistakes. Finally, there Reeves (Oscar Isaac) who has become a famous musician and he tries to reach out to an old crush (Kate Mara). We also have a supporting cast of familiar faces including Anthony Mackie, Lynn Collins, Ron Livingston, Ari Graynor, Scott Porter, and Aubrey Plaza.
What instantly stood out about "10 Years" is that it doesn't go in the direction you think it will. Of course going into the movie we will believe that Jake will ruin things with Jess, he'll try for Mary then figure out how well he had it now, we believe Marty will somehow get the popular girl to fall for him, we believe that Cully will turn into a big hero and we believe Reeves will find peace of mind. Well, that doesn't happen, not quite. For a dramatic comedy about a high school reunion, this movie could not have been more realistic. "10 Years" isn't some modern fairy tale. Its a realistic story about how people change over time and how our perspectives of them change. This is a character study about how life effects people once they grow up but also how old friendships mature over the years. I loved "10 Years" because you can't guess how everybody's story will shake out, and that's exciting. Its non-cliche. Its something different. Its also truly beautiful how one of the movies best themes is how we can still inspire each other, even after so many years.
It also helps that the movie to brought to life by a wonderful cast. I have loved Channing Tatum's recent change of pace in his career, and "10 Years" is certainly a plus column in his filmography. At this point, I don't think I need to tell you how awesome Justin Long or Anthony Mackie or Rosario Dawson or Aubrey Plaza are. They have proven themselves over the years. With a cast this good playing characters so rich, its hard to really pinpoint a favorite character. I was amazed that I found pieces of my own personality in a number of these characters (which characters I will never reveal!), but it makes the experience much more fun, much more emotional and much more meaningful. With the cast assembled in this movie, I was amazed that this film didn't get the traction it truly deserved. This is a joyous movie that could be enjoyed by all.
The best thing about "10 Years" is that it feels like a real reunion. We as the audience feel like a member of the reunion and the film really captures the essence of the reunion. (There is a scene late in the movie where the group goes to a local bar and how the camera weaves through the bar is awfully reminiscent of "Goodfellas." It made me swoon.) I also love how that essence gets captured by some of the best music from the 1990's and 1980's, a great reminder of how crucial a role the right music plays in a movie. Underneath it all, "10 Years" is a reflection. We find out who changed in this group of friends, we found out who didn't change. We also found out how after a decade, who was able to change who in one night. Its a well-written story, brought to life by a great cast. Absolutely worth checking out and is a further reminder of just how strong 2011 was as a cinematic year.