“Why spend your time looking back, when you got so much to look forward to?”–Scotty
Initially I was not a fan of Channing Tatum (Magic Mike), but I must admit that I’m really starting to like the guy — not in a weird stalker kind of way, but in regards to his acting. Maybe he’s not an Oscar® caliber performer, but his relaxed on screen persona is an acquired taste that I’ve finally come to appreciate. From Haywire to 21 Jump Street, I’m beginning to see why this guy’s star is on the rise. In the film 10 Years, Tatum holds his own as part of an ensemble cast that includes his real life wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum (Step Up).
A group of high school friends attending their 10 year reunion try to forget their current predicaments, and escape into the glory days of the past. However, reality forces them to come to terms with the present and accept that even though things didn’t turn out exactly as planned, it’s time to let go of those bygone days and move on.
The tenth year after graduation can be a time when we’re trying to make that final transition into adulthood (hopefully). And it’s the perfect setting for the film 10 Years, is a surprisingly wonderful movie from writer/director
Jamie Linden, that gives us an all too realistic look at that weird awkwardness
that can accompany this type of reunion.
Linden creates thoroughly believable characters who aren’t the people they once were, but haven’t quite come into their own either. Most are full of doubt and desperation — even the once cool kids. The geeks are still geeky and the cool kids are still attractive, but the playing field is on a more equal level than it was in the Lord of the Flies atmosphere of high school.
The story focuses on the friendships of five former schoolmates. Jake (Channing Tatum) is a former football hero and prom king still dealing with the end of his relationship with his high school sweetheart, Mary (Rosario Dawson, Seven Pounds). Even though both appear to have moved on to other relationships, they still desire a sense of closure. Cully is a former bully, now married with two kids, who wants to find the geeks he pushed around in school and apologize — and if they won’t forgive him, then he’ll make ’em. Reeves is now a famous musician and comes to the reunion only to find the girl that got away. Then there’s Marty (Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard), and AJ (Max Minghella, The Social Network), once close buddies in school, both are hiding the reality of what their lives have become.
10 Years doesn’t treat the topic of high school reunions the way Hollywood typically does: with the former outcasts as petty backbiters who come only to see if the kids that once tormented them are fat and miserable, while the shallow popular kids strut around as if they are still the entitled class they believed they were in school. These characters have depth and are relatable; we can all feel the inadequacy of high school and how those years still affect them even today. It’s easy to empathize with their plight to want, for one night at least, to be something more to the people whose opinions mattered so much to them all those years ago.
It surprised the heck out of me how good this film is, in particular Channing Tatum, who is also one of the film’s producers. He is a mix of machismo and vulnerability — a combination that makes the ladies swoon. His performance is quiet and understated, and he manages to soften the woodenness that often accompanies his performances; showing instead a warmth that works well with that mumbly way he has of speaking his lines.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation gives a crisp and clear picture throughout, even though most of the film takes place in a dark banquet room and a shadowy bar. The Dolby audio helps showcase the very cool original music soundtrack by Chad Fischer, which contain two songs beautifully sung by actor Oscar Isaac, who plays musician Reeves in the film. The extras are lacking however, only a few deleted scenes are available. Too bad.
I was thoroughly invested in this group of friends, rooting for them every step of the way. 10 Years is a smart film that could’ve taken the easy way out and settled for being your usual vapid rom-com. But good writing and
fine acting, coupled with a cohesive cast, make for a surprisingly rich film experience.