Movie Review: 10 Years
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: September 14, 2012
Directed by: Jamie Linden
Stars: 3 out of 5
"10 Years" is like attending a high school reunion where everyone seems mildly familiar. While some of the characters have great stories that will keep viewers entertained, other characters are like the kids from high school who disappeared into the background. The film stars some of the best younger actors and is directed by first-time director Jamie Linden, who wrote the screenplays for "Dear John" and "We Are Marshall."
The film follows a group of former classmates who return to their hometown for their 10-year reunion. The main character is Jake (Channing Tatum, "Dear John"), a former prom king and popular kid who returns to his old school as a wealthy mortgage broker with a hot girlfriend on his arm. His girlfriend Jess (Jenna Dewan-Tatum, "Step Up") sometimes seems like arm candy, and most of the film revolves around the ring he carries around in his pocket. Before he can pop the question, in walks his former girlfriend Mary (Rosario Dawson, "Rent") with her husband (Ron Livingston, "Office Space"), a man who cannot stop drinking.
While the Mary and Jake story is the main plot, the film also introduces new characters with stories of their own. Reeves (Oscar Isaac, "Sucker Punch") was a quiet teenager who became a famous musician after penning a song about his high school crush. That crush, Elise (Kate Mara, "Deadfall"), finds herself drawn to him for reasons she cannot explain. Then there is Marty (Justin Long, "Going the Distance") and AJ (Max Minghella, "The Social Network") who want nothing more than to win over the hot girl Anna (Lynn Collins, "John Carter"). Cully (Chris Pratt, "Parks and Recreation") is the former bully who wants to make amends but can't leave behind his old behavior, and Scott (Scott Porter, "Hart of Dixie") comes back from his new life in Japan, only to find that his friends are still the same as they were in high school.
Ensemble films survive or fail by the cast alone, and "10 Years" has one of the best casts in recent years. The film is like "The Big Easy" for a younger generation, filled with actors that viewers know from other roles. Whether the group stops by a local bar for a few drinks or settles down together for a meal, viewers' eyes are drawn to some of the standout actors in that group.
One of those standouts is Chris Pratt. Though he originally gained fame playing a bully with a heart of gold on the television show "Everwood," he gained a new following as the dimwitted and bumbling Andy on "Parks and Recreation." His role of Cully is a combination of those two characters, and he plays the role perfectly. Even as he picks on the former nerds in his class, viewers will find themselves laughing with him. He does a phenomenal job of portraying a bully who wants to be a better man, but he is clueless on how to make that happen.
The other standout of the film is Channing Tatum. Tatum stars alongside his real-life wife Dawson-Tatum, marking the duo's first onscreen appearance since "Step Up." Their chemistry is still as hot as ever, oozing off the screen and showing that the two have real affection for each other. When the film introduces the character of Mary, the director wants viewers to root for their relationship, but that never happens. While he does have some chemistry with Dawson, it pales in comparison to the fireworks that he shares with his wife.
"10 Years" features characters that viewers can relate to because everyone was one of those characters in school. There is the popular girl who discovered that life outside high school was harder than she thought and the former geek who struggles to reconcile his high school days with the life he now has. As the film progresses, the characters discover that they are different people today.
While it is a solid film, "10 Years" does have its notes of predictability. The film keeps pressing certain issues and then changes the outcome, but viewers who pay attention can see those twists coming long before the film ends. The film also makes the mistake of adding too many characters without giving each one the proper amount of screen time. It sometimes feels like the director added new characters just to pad out the script, which takes too much time away from the characters the viewers enjoy like Jake and Cully.
Despite those flaws, "10 Years" has the kind of emotional impact that only a few films can achieve. Viewers will find themselves rooting for the characters, drawn into their stories, and interested in the film until the credits roll.