Channing Tatum omnipresent? I feel like he's everywhere now. I suppose it's the year of Channing Tatum, and this was before they pushed back G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
I was a little leery when I heard this was yet another high school reunion movie. We already had American Reunion earlier this year, which is an increasing disappointment the more I think about it. How many more variations can we have on the reunion theme? Fortunately, 10 Years is what American Reunion could have been if it had any humanity about it.
The story focuses primarily on Jake (Channing Tatum), who goes to his reunion with his current girlfriend (played by his real-life wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum). You meet most of the major players at a small pre-party gathering, hosted by former jock Cully (Chris Pratt) and his wife Sam (Ari Graynor). They've settled down and had a few kids, but Cully is looking forward to cutting loose. He also desperately wants to apologize for the bullying he did to several of his classmates. There are close friends Marty (Justin Long) and AJ (Max Minghella), who both really want to see the hot, popular girl Anna (Lynn Collins). Marty, in particular, is hoping that maybe there's potential for some reunion hook up action. You have Garrity (Brain Geraghty), who comes with his wife (Aubrey Plaza), but she isn't too thrilled to find out how he used to be back in high school. There's even the now-famous Reeves (Oscar Isaac), who wrote a hit song, and is anxious to talk to the girl he used to have a crush on.
As the alcohol flows, you find out more about everyone and their stories from high school. For some of them their old high school personalities resurface, and some get nervous to talk to their old crushes. You see how even though 10 years has passed, some are still struggling with adulthood. There is a realism to 10 Years that I don't normally see in a movie like this.
It seems that they went to a fairly small school, as nearly everyone was to be fixated on whether or not Jake's ex, Mary (Rosario Dawson), will show up. She eventually does, with new husband (Ron Livingston), and you could feel the tension in the room. They build up that something happened between them, but when you find out what it was it seemed a little overblown. I get that because they were homecoming king and queen that all eyes might have been on them, but it's been 10 years. Not all high school sweethearts work out. People grow apart and move on. It's not that it wasn't significant, but with the way everyone was acting, I was thinking it was going to be something more earth shattering. Thankfully, Jake and Mary get a chance to talk like adults, and the movie doesn't go down a predictable path for these two. It might have ruined the film if they had.
As for the others, Marty and AJ do catch up with Anna, but it's funny to watch Marty become increasingly frustrated with AJ competing for her attention. Why are you cock-blocking your buddy, AJ? Bad form! You also spend a lot of time with Reeves and his crush (Kate Mara), and at first it seemed like they were getting too much time in the movie, but then their story has a nice payoff that made it worth watching.
Cully gets his opportunity to apologize, but as he gets progressively more drunk, he becomes a bully of a different sort. It's uncomfortably hilarious for us to watch. As he's shown how he can be on Parks and Recreation and The Five-Year Engagement, Chris Pratt is hilarious throughout the movie. He was definitely the highlight. Ari Graynor was also great as she continues to babysit him and get frustrated with his antics as the night goes on.
I almost forgot about Channing Tatum. He was one of the producers of the film, and even though the movie primarily followed him, it felt like he took a back seat to much of the cast. It gave the movie a sense of balance, where you didn't feel like the other characters didn't matter. It was also cute seeing him with his wife. They had nice chemistry on screen and are a gorgeous couple that will have super babies when their lives take them down that path.
This is the directorial debut for writer Jamie Linden (Dear John, We Are Marshall), and he did a good job of balancing a fun cast and getting good performances out of everyone. When the movie starts, I was getting excited when I saw people like Aubrey Plaza, Justin Long, Ron Livingston and Anthony Mackie, but I was worried that the cast might be too stacked. Fortunately, they all get to have their moments as the night goes on. Despite everyone's flaws, they all felt very real and and sympathetic. I also appreciated that nobody came off as an over-the-top high school stereotype. 10 Years is very funny without trying too hard or going for silly and obvious jokes.
10 Years isn't breaking any new ground as far as premise. However, it goes to show you that if you have a likable cast and don't fall prey to melodrama, you can still have an engaging and entertaining movie. As someone that recently had his 20-year reunion, this felt like a very realistic and consistently funny look at one. 10 Years is in limited release, so I strongly recommend it as a rental once it becomes available.
3.5 (out of 5) Death Stars