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9/21/2012

Review: '10 Years' starring Channing Tatum and Rosario Dawson


The reunion movie. Always a reliable cinematic avenue for exploring the harsh disappointments and regrets that come with post-high school life. Darn all that responsibility! 10 Years isn't aiming to break the mold in that regard. It sticks to many of the same high school archetypes we've all come to know and recognize. But what separates it from something like the raunchy and mean-spirited American Reunion is that it takes a serio-comic approach. If The Big Chill and Can't Hardly Wait mated, 10 Years would be its spawn, only with a fantastic ensemble that alone is worth the price of admission.

There can be no denying that this has been an unforgettable year for Channing Tatum. Three $100M movies under his belt, two films with Steven Soderbergh, and now he's setting himself up as a force behind the camera. Although Magic Mike hit theaters first, 10 Years marks his first time as a producer, and he was smart enough to cast himself  and his wife in the most prominent role. He plays Jake, the sweet and charismatic guy who was the king of the school back in the day. He's contemplating asking Jess to marry him, but with their reunion coming up his mind has turned to Mary(Rosario Dawson), his high school sweetheart with whom he shares a number of unresolved issues. Thinking she won't show up for the event, the night suddenly gets awkward when Mary rolls up with her stick-up-the-butt husband(Ron Livingston).

Written and directed by Jamie Linden(Dear John), a familiar story is made fresh by casting well-known faces in roles clearly designed just for them. Perennial jokester Chris Pratt plays a former bully trying waaaayyy too hard to make up for his old ways, with Ari Graynor as his totally embarrassed wife. Justin Long and Max Minghella are two former nerds who have moved on to success in other avenues, but still lust for a shot at Anna(Lynn Collins), the hottest girl in school. Anthony Mackie is the coolest guy in the room, of course, with Aubrey Plaza, Brian Geraghty, and Scott Porter each get their moment in the sun.

A number of recognizable storylines bounce off of one another with varying degrees of success, and Linden knows how to put his gorgeous friends in all the right places. Pratt is a buffoon but he's a good-hearted buffoon, while Tatum is the dude you want to hate but he's just so darn nice that you can't. While most of the various plots tip toe around being too weighty, there are a couple that stand out more than the rest. Oscar Isaac and Kate Mara strike up some incredible romantic chemistry, with him as a celebrity singer and she as his long-held high school crush. A supremely talented musician in his own right, Isaac is perfect as the star looking to return home for a little bit of normalcy. Isaac and Mara sizzle in practically every scene, and it's only unfortunate that we don't get to see more of them.

Linden wildly misfires and ventures into creepy territory when Long and Minghella's dorks stalk Collins to her home. Their plan is to toilet paper her house as some sort of weird revenge fantasy, but it just comes off as way too dark for the rest of the film. Linden recovers slightly by tacking on a hopeful message at the end, but it's simply not enough.

The fun of 10 Years is in watching all of these celebrities hanging out, and for that reason 10 Years is likely to become a cult classic. It's messages are ones we already know: life can be disappointing, some people change, some people don't. But it also shows how easy it can be to slip back into old, comfortable roles.