When a group of attractive, generally likable movie stars get together for a mildly funny, low-stakes movie about nothing much, can you really begrudge them for it? Yes, 10 Years ranks pretty low on the list of reunion movies, and by gathering together some of the funniest talents of their generation and asking them to act far too normal, it squanders what's really an impressive casting coup. But to hate 10 Years is like hating the enthusiastic girl who organizes your high school reunion-- can you really be so mean when so much effort was made and a reasonably good time was had by all?
Jamie Linden, making his directorial debut after writing scripts like Dear John and We Are Marshall, doesn't exactly bring that organizer's energy to 10 Years, instead staging a series of meet-cutes and weighted conversations among his starry cast and hoping charisma will carry things through. How much it does depends on how much affection for these actors you bring to the film, since none of them-- no, not even 2012's Sweetheart Channing Tatum-- actually establishes a character in the slivers of narrative they're given. Instead of limiting the reunion to a manageable, Big Chill-sized eight, or even a Can't Hardly Wait-sized band of six with supporting players for color, 10 Years hops among no fewer than 14 characters, all of them ostensibly leads. The possible rekindling of an old romance between Tatum and Dawson's characters-- while he plans to propose to his girlfriend (Jenna Dewan-Tatum)-- is the story's meager backbone, but like most of the narratives in 10 Years, is amiably predictable more than engrossing.
As for the other former classmates reuniting after 10 years, there's a sudden rock star (Oscar Isaac) flirting with a former outcast (Kate Mara); a party girl (Lynn Collins) pursued by two nerds-made-good (Justin Long and Max Minghella); a now-married couple (Ari Graynor and Chris Pratt) coping not so well with a night on the town without the kids; another married pair (Brian Geraghty and Aubrey Plaza) in which she doesn't know about his previous high school identity; and a handful of dudes (Scott Porter, Anthony Mackie) who mostly just seem to be enjoying the nostalgia. We hop among the narratives as the night goes on, meeting a few surprises and a few genuine laughs, but mostly just meandering through the story as if we were guests as the reunion who didn't know anyone, and had nothing better to do than eavesdrop on conversations that may or may not be that interesting.
Almost everyone in the movie is naturally charming, and all of them get at least one scene to show it -- Justin Long and Lynn Collins do especially well muddling through some awkward flirtation, and Oscar Isaac and Kate Mara overcome their ridiculously thin characters to strike up a real spark. But it would be nice to see any of these actors working together with stronger material, especially when you're used to seeing some of them-- like Parks & Recreation's Pratt and Plaza-- do much better work together elsewhere. 10 Years is a harmless stab of nostalgia, especially for those of us whose own 10-year high school reunions just came up, but it can't do much to refresh a tired formula.
Staff Writer at CinemaBlend