'10 Years' Review: Flawed Drama Details High School's Long-Range Consequences
Cully’s high school memories are ones that he would like to forget.
He was the bully, picking on the younger and smaller kids and making their lives miserable. He’s given up his destructive past in the new reunion drama "10 Years," hoping he can make amends with his former victims in a single evening.
He's just one character in the ensemble drama examining how high school days stay with us long into our adult years. The cast is anchored by the omnipresent Channing Tatum (seriously, what movie wasn’t he in this year?). Tatum stars as Jake, a well-liked guy from high school who’s in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend (real-life wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum) but fondly remembers his high school sweetheart, Mary (Rosario Dawson).
Added to the festivities is Reeves (Oscar Isaac), the student who made good on his musical talents and has become a semi-famous musician.
Throughout the course of the film, we watch these and other characters mingle and flirt with each other and remember the good and sometimes bad memories they shared with each other.
There are times in the story when the feelings and emotions that these characters describe feel so real. The ambivalence about the past. The regrets. The idea that despite one’s own wishes, our own unique stories will remain with us - and our acquaintances - despite our wishes to the contrary and despite the fact that we all eventually grow up.
We might have grown up, but that doesn’t mean our high school selves have completed disappeared. We’re just hidden those personalities under suits and ties, guitars and goatees, and masks of maturity that can fall apart at any moment.
"10 Years" taps into such sensibilities and ultimately becomes a story about who people become after high school and how the high school years led them there. The ending of the story is superb, but the film’s weaknesses lie in how it gets there. Too many of the early scenes seem scattered as if writer/director Jamie Linden wasn’t sure where the story would go, giving it an uneven pacing along the way.
The cast is great and packed with young actors whose fame in Hollywood has yet to reach its apex. Chris Pratt, for one, deserves special recognition for his performance as Cully. The "Parks and Recreation" actor could have come off as a jerk. Instead, Pratt presents an empathetic person who clumsily overcompensates for his personal failures.
The story should also be commended for not making easy decisions along the way. Life is too complicated for such simplicity. Overall, I have mixed feelings about "10 Years" recognizing its strengths but understanding its weaknesses.
It feels disjointed and directionless during its first two-thirds but its noble intentions are fully embraced in its final act.