[Review] – 10 Years

1 Oct

Title: 10 Years
Year: 2012
Director: Jamie Linden
Writer: Jamie Linden
Starring: Channing Tatum, Justin Long, Kate Mara, Chris Pratt, Scott Porter, Brian Geraghty, Anthony Mackie, Rosario Dawson, Oscar Isaac, Lynn Collins, Max Minghella, Aubrey Plaza, Ari Graynor, Jenna Dewan-Tatum
MPAA Rating: PG-13, language, alcohol abuse, some sexual material and drug use
Runtime: 100 min
IMDb Rating: 5.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Metacritic: 61

I really didn’t know much about 10 Years, the new film that’s now opened in limited released after premiere a year ago at TIFF, but the cast just intrigued me too much. It’s basically a who’s who of really good up-and-coming young actors, including Channing Tatum (who also helped produce the film), Kate Mara, Chris Pratt, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac and Aubrey Plaza. I mean, really, every single person in this cast is some young performer that has tremendous potential to become a huge star or that, in the case of Mr. Tatum, already has achieved that potential.

It’s the directorial debut of Jamie Linden, who also wrote this film and who had previously written two other movies: 2006’s We Are Marshall and 2010’s Dear John. If you’ve seen those two films and you check out this one then one thing will become pretty clear, Mr. Linden is probably a friendly person who knows how to make some nice contacts; Anthony Mackie, Kate Mara and Brian Geraghty all starred in We Are Marshall and appear here as well and both Channing Tatum and Scott Porter were part of the Dear John cast.

That feel of reunion between Mr. Linden and some of these actors probably bodes well for the fact that 10 Years is itself about a reunion, a ten-year high-school reunion, that is. As fate would have it, though, we quickly find out that these guys haven’t really grown all that much in the past decade. It’s the kind of comedy that you’ve seen some iteration of before (American Reunion did it awesomely this year) and that’s ultimately rather banal and inconsequential, but even though there’s nothing new to the familiar formula here, you do have a terrific ensemble executing the formula and that makes 10 Years worthy of a recommendation in my book.

Mr. Tatum plays Jake, a guy totally ready to propose to his girlfriend (played by Mr. Tatum’s real-life wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum) until he bumps into Mary, his high-school fling, played by Rosario Dawson. Then you have Max Minghella and Justin Long who always competed with each other back in the old days and quickly revert to that mode again as they both try to win Lynn Collins‘ character over, the hottest girl in their class. Oscar Isaac is the one that went on to become famous but still is shy when it comes to talking to Elise, Kate Mara’s character, his high-school crush. Chris Pratt was the typical jock who went on to marry the cheerleader, played by Ari Graynor, and start a family but who now wants to apologize to those he bullied only to have his old self sprout back after a few drinks.

Like I said, everything that happens here is probably easy to predict and goes according to the formula these kinds of films have traced out for them, but it still sort of worked for me. Each character had some personal arc to get through and have some sort of revelation or nice moment by the time the end credits rolled by, and those schmaltzy moments are actually downplayed to the point in which you can totally bear them. It’s just a nice film, not memorably by any stretch of the imagination but a nice way to kill off an afternoon and just see this ridiculous amount of good young actors playing so nicely off each other, having fun with their roles.

I liked that, by the way, seeing these actors just having fun. It’s obvious that those who signed on having worked with Mr. Liden before were good friends with each other and with him and the rest of the cast is probably friendly with at least some of the other actors as well, the whole thing just had this feeling of good fun. Mr. Tatum, as you may know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, is having probably the best 2012 out of any actor and has used this year to really win me over since I didn’t particularly like him before. I’m now a fan, I’m quite okay to say, and here he once again gives a super charming performance that feels natural.

Another thing to pinpoint that 10 Years did really well is the fact that it’s totally unpretentious. Many times movies with these sort of huge casts full of big names will try and push something down our throats or act all magnanimous; 10 Years never does that, it doesn’t even try to say that it’s encapsulating the state of affairs of an entire generation. It’s just presenting us with a group of friends who have a hard time growing up and then it just wants us to see what becomes of them. Nothing more, and I liked that freshness in its forgetfulness.

Of course having these many characters means that some won’t get their stories tied up all that nicely, that was a given from the start, but still, I thought the movie got to say some poignant things at times, this film probably working best when it’s not playing for laughs, and I really thought Mr. Linden did a neat job at not going for the cheap and easy melodramatic sting most of the time. It’s the farthest thing away from a ground-breaking ensemble piece but it’s still pleasant as hell, chockfull of solid actors that make 10 Years a reunion worth attending.

Grade: B-

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