A large group of friends gather with hopes of impressing alums at their high school’s ten-year reunion, with varying levels of success.
Given Channing Tatum’s riotous resume, it’s easy to see how 10 Years snuck under the radar. This is a markedly quiet performance from the man best known for ripping his clothes off to a dance beat. And a lovely turn it is, despite the lack of abs.
Tatum’s character, Jake Bills, is at the heart of a tight-knit group of pals who’ve assembled from all over the country to check in with each other at the decade mark. He’s brought his girlfriend, Jess (real-life wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum), along to the event with the intent of proposing soon. What’s been keeping him from finally slipping a ring on this gorgeous gal’s finger? Lingering feelings for his high school love, Mary (Rosario Dawson), who’s not slated to attend the big bash. Jake’s solid relationship is thrown for a loop when Mary shows up late to the party… with her husband Paul (Ron Livingston) in tow.
Well… this is awkward!
10 Years is also a reunion of another kind in the working relationship between Channing and writer/director Jamie Linden, who penned the screenplay for Tatum’s dramatic turn in Dear John. [Or, at least I assume it’s dramatic. I’m one woman who can’t stomach anything Nicholas Sparks.] Linden allowed the actors to improvise the majority of their scenes for this movie and Tatum agreed to co-produce, working for scale in order to help bring the project to the big screen.
Channing’s affable good-guy persona translates off-screen as well, so it’s no surprise that when it came time to cast the flick it was easy to lure an all-star cast. The aforementioned Jenna was obviously a lock – the two share a sweet, swoon-worthy chemistry. Chris Pratt also signed on as Cully, a well-intentioned bully trying to mend his ways with Ari Graynor playing, Sam, his patient wife. (Chris’s real-life wife, Anna Faris, was going to join the cast as his spouse, but had to back out due to other commitments. One of the character’s names is a nod to her.)
In addition to Tatum, Dewan, Dawson and Livingston, the film also features Justin Long as Marty, a smooth talker from NYC who may not be as successful as he insinuates. Max Minghella plays AJ, Marty’s competitive friend. Aubrey Plaza has a small part as Olivia, wife to a former wigger (the film’s oddest subplot). Other recognizable names include Oscar Isaac, Kate Mara, Nick Zano, Aaron Yoo and Lynn Collins. Oscar and Kate’s storyline (as famous musician Reeves and shy girl Elise) provides romantic levity to the Jake, Jess, Mary triangle.
However, one would expect this heavy-duty cadre of actors to knock it out of the park – and they mainly do, minus Chris Pratt. His character is too close to his goofy, over-the-top Parks & Rec persona. It would have been nice to see him tone it down and play a character with a little depth. Channing and Rosario shine, but there’s not enough urgency to their characters’ past love for us to believe his current relationship is really in much danger.
Channing calls – hotties answer!
A note to the guys: If you see this pop up in your Netflix queue, don’t worry; 10 Years is not your typical rom-com. The film style has a stark “found footage” feel (minus the endless shaky cam) and there’s a surprising lack of schmaltz. This isn’t goofy Kate Hudson-style terrain and the bromance factor will appeal to both genders.
I didn’t miss the normal vibe of most romantic comedies – but it did leave me craving something more. I can’t quite put my finger on it, as all the elements are there. I guess I was hoping the actors involved would elevate the script. The ending is pat and viewers will be able to see it from a mile away. Given that they already went out on a limb, it would be nice to see them go all the way with something a little more unconventional.
What this movie does offer is a fresh look at a familiar tale as it confronts what it means to get a little older, fall in and out of love, and how to (hopefully) grow up and past those seminal teen years. It’s not an over-the-top comedy, nor is it a sullen drama – it’s simply a slice of life that’s very engaging to watch.
It’s a slightly uneven offering, but the cast will charm you nonetheless.
Take a Drink: every time Jake considers giving the engagement ring to Jess.
Take a Drink: every time the guys in the group get rowdy.
Take a Drink: every time Cully acts like a bully.
Do a Shot: for the WFT wigger subplot.
Do a Shot: when the guys can’t find flasks and sub baby bottles instead.
Do a Shot: if you tear up when Anna wails, “I miss my glow!”
Take a moment to watch deleted scenes for the alternate ending.