Have you been recently watching a movie that you just wish you liked better? That’s essentially 10 Years, an ensemble comedy/drama about the 10-year reunion of a high school class.
The film is geared to the twenty- to thirty-something demographic that loved the old school songs featured in the soundtrack and are starting to wonder if their lives are how they pictured after graduating from high school.
Director/Screenwriter Jamie Linden introduces us to a group of friends en route to their 10-year high school reunion. Jake (Channing Tatum, The Vow) is heading back with his longtime girlfriend, Jesse (Tatum’s actual wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum), while worrying about running into his high school flame, Mary (Rosario Dawson, Sin City).
Tatum goes the extra step for the role and sheds his standard Magic Mike look by adding on a little weight, so he’s not the chiseled model you’re used to seeing and it gives him an added layer of credibility here.
Jake’s subplot is meaty enough that it would have been the main plot in most movies and Tatum’s chemistry with Dawson is just enough of a tease to make you wonder how good the film could have been simply focused on them.
Jake’s pal, Cully (Chris Pratt, Moneyball) is anxious to enjoy just one night out without having to be the responsible husband and father of two kids. (Read: getting drunk). Pratt’s fun at first, but Linden doesn’t give him much to do after Cully gets drunk besides being a repetitive punch line.
Their buddy, Reeves (Oscar Isaac, Won’t Back Down) is a famous singer seeking to reconnect with the classmate who got away (a charming Kate Mara, Iron Man 2). Isaac has a likable screen presence and his subplot offers the film’s best scene. I wish there was more screen time for Anthony Mackie (The Adjustment Bureau), who has a small, but fun supporting role.
Linden, who wrote the screenplay for Dear John, makes his directorial debut here and he easily manufactures the breezy feel of a large reunion-type gathering. Your attention isn’t stuck on any one person for too long as he weaves the camera in and out of conversations at random points and transitions from one subplot to the next smoothly.
That does become an issue though as Linden faces the same problem as many multiple subplot ensembles — not every one of them work. So just as you’re really getting into the subplots you like, Linden switches off to give equal time to others that are better as quick one-off jokes never to be heard from again. Instead, you’re wishing you were watching this at home just so you could fast-forward past the silly subplots.
An ensemble is one of the trickier types of films to handle and Linden never seems too sure of his tone. It’s not funny enough to consistently have you laughing like an American Pie or mature enough that the characters can look back on their earlier years with better perspective like The Best Man. And it’s that limbo state that Linden can’t navigate through to make 10 Years a reunion you’ll need to RSVP for. Maybe check back in another decade?
Rating: 4.5 out of 10