The high school reunion is right up there with weddings and grad nights as excuses for ensemble movie comedies. Which means when writer-director Jamie Linden got his distinctly unoriginal idea for “10 Years,” a comedy about, yes, a 10th high-school reunion, he had his work cut out for him.
What’s new to say? What can go wrong that hasn’t gone wrong so many times before?
Not much, it turns out. The good news is that Linden has a better aptitude for creating characters than dreaming up movie ideas. While nearly every character starts off as a cliché or worse, as time wears on Linden gradually upends these clichés.
Nothing too revelatory happens here but “10 Years” probably beats going to your own reunion. They seldom turn out this well.
Channing Tatum, the film’s star and producer, plays Jake, lucky in love with girlfriend Jess (real-life wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum) yet anxious to check out the girl who got away, Mary (Rosario Dawson). Which can only annoy Jess — and Mary’s date for the evening, her husband Paul (Ron Livingston).
Only heavy drinking brings about a reversion to his former self much to the distress of his increasingly impatient wife Sam (Ari Graynor).
Longtime rivals Marty (Justin Long) and AJ (Max Minghella) appear to be men who have made their way in the world. Yet each still has a yen for the class hottie, Anna (Lynn Collins). Will one of them at last score with her?
Reeves (Oscar Isaac) is the one grad who is actually a rock star — he modestly says he’s only a musician — yet can’t seem to hook up with his school crush Elise (Kate Mara).
No, not the stuff of Eugene O’Neill — or even Neil Simon. The party starts early with airport arrivals and at-home greetings, everyone gets liquored up at the reunion, then most of them head for a dive bar to finish off the night.
The Cullly-Sam trajectory is almost pre-determined but, again, the Reeves and Elise story has a warm and satisfying finale. Smaller revelations come with the minor characters, all believable but none containing awesome insight.
Jamie Linden marshals his resources well and directs the cast competently. The movie has a disarming way of actually getting better as it moves along.
Given the current rash of bad movies about weddings, post-grad holidays and the like, “10 Years” at least provides a few laughs and likable characters.
Let’s just hope Linden doesn’t get the idea for “20 Years” in a few years, however. One night with this group is just about right.
Opens: September 14, 2012 (Anchor Bay)
Production companies: Anchor Bay and Boss Media present a Temple Hill/Iron Horse production
Cast: Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Kate Mara, Ari Graynor, Oscar Isaac, Justin Long, Ron Livingston, Max Minghella, Anthony Mackie, Aubrey Plaza, Scott Porter, Chris Pratt, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Brian Geraghty
Director/screenwriter: Jamie Linden
Producers: Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin, Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey
Executive producers: Eric Gores, Frank Mancuso, Jr.
Director of photography: Steven Fierberg
Production designer: Kara Lindstrom
Music: Chad Fischer
Costume designer: Trayce Gigi Field
Editor: Jake Pushinsky
PG-13 rating, 100 minutes