Less fun than a funeral, “10 Years” plunges into the pitfalls of an easy format. Whether it’s a wedding, a wake or (in this case) a high-school reunion, the gathering of friends and family is a big old narrative cookie-cutter, providing for shared histories, issues and ready-made familiarity. Helmer Jamie Linden’s script succumbs to all the temptations, but he’s also managed to populate his film with name actors who, with a series of properly misleading uptempo trailers, will seduce the innocent and romantic comedy-hungry.
Oddly, “10 years” barely qualifies as a comedy; in fact, the one interesting thing about it is the dire melancholy at its core. As old friends gather to attend the impending event, the viewer is given the usual debriefing on the ex-classmates’ dilemmas and dysfunctions, and it’s not entirely pretty.
Jake (Channing Tatum) is in love with Jess (the thesp’s wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum) but can’t find the right time to propose, and he’s wondering if his high-school sweetheart, Mary (Rosario Dawson), will be at the reunion. Cully (Chris Pratt), is married-with-children to Sam (Ari Graynor), and eager to use the reunion to apologize to all the former kids he bullied in school. Two of the group’s apparently most successful alums, Marty (Justin Long) and A.J. (Max Minghella), will compete all over again for class hottie Anna (Lynn Collins). Also in attendance is musician Reeves (Oscar Isaac), a one-hit wonder whose pop smash was inspired by Elise (Kate Mara), who shows up alone and seemingly confused.
The attendees will spend the evening getting reacquainted, which shouldn’t be too tough, because the graduating class at Supermodel High consisted of only 20 people, judging by the population of the party. The one really interesting couple is Garrity (Brian Geraghty) and his wife, Olivia (Aubrey Plaza), who wasn’t one of his classmates; when she discovers her husband was a white rapper in high school, she develops an immediate disdain for him. Plaza’s great, and the subplot is resolved in one of the film’s better moments.
The worst moments, easily, are those involving Cully, who spends the evening tediously atoning for his sins, then getting drunk and committing them all over again. There’s nothing funny, redemptive or even vaguely entertaining about Pratt’s character, who resumes his abuse of former classmate Peter (Aaron Yoo), which includes a series of homoerotic advances. It makes one cringe, as does the slavish attention paid to Anna by Marty and A.J, who in a flash of adolescent idiocy, decide to toilet-paper her house.
Some of the strongest actors in the movie are given the least amount of screen time: Anthony Mackie is terrific, but doesn’t get a lot do to as Andre, while Ron Livingston, as Mary’s husband, captures perfectly the desperation of the partner who realizes, far too late, what a mistake it is to attend someone else’s high-school reunion. Viewers will know how he feels.
Production values are standard. During a post-reunion sequence in which the group visits the local watering hole, d.p. Steven Fierberg takes a dreamy, end-of-the-night approach, lending the film’s crisis-hardened crowd the kind of grandeur that’s lacking in the rest of the movie.