Runtime: 1hr. 39mins.
Google Play, Amazon Instant
Here's a story often gone back to in film. If you've seen The Big Chill, or any of the multitude of films inspired by it, this film will feel familiar. It's an attempt at a modern take on the story with actors from some of today's biggest TV shows, and references to social networking.
The story begins when lonely, depressed Alex (Jason Ritter) tries to commit suicide. It wasn't an earnest attempt at his life, he admits later to having been the one to call the hospital. Nevertheless, it succeeds in gathering his old college friends for a weekend away when they otherwise might have been too busy.
It's a dysfunctional family of college graduate friends who don't wait very long before airing their grievances. Alex's closest friend is Ben (Nate Parker), a writer with a bad case of block. He'd been screening Alex's calls, and feels responsible for Alex's state of mind. Ben's partner Siri (Maggie Grace) might be pregnant, but doesn't know how to tell Ben. Worse yet, she has a job opportunity in LA, but Ben fights the move because he'd have to quit his job. Sarah (Aubrey Plaza) is the groups cook. Ever since college she's occasionally slept with Josh (Max Greenfield), the curmudgeonly jerk of the group, despite her feelings for Isaac (Max Minghella). The whole group, particularly Sarah, feels awkward that Isaac brought his girlfriend Kate (Jane Levy), who no one else knows. And Josh is jealous that Ben seems to have everything in life he wishes he had, including Siri.
There isn't really a plot, just a group of friends hanging out again after college. The story, what little there is, tends to hit all the expected moments. Sarah and Josh sleep together again, and she later admits her feelings to Isaac. She also has a conversation with Josh about how their non-relationship messed up her expectations in all her relationships since. Josh forces a conversation or two about suicide with Alex, and Ben and Siri deal with their multitude issues. There's a lot going on with these people.
A weekend getaway with college friends is something we’d all like do, but rarely have the time for. There's a lot of memories and emotions shared. Everyone has problems, and considering college is an important developmental era in our lives, our college friends are aware of, and in some cases responsible for the way we turned out as adults. There are many complex emotions among these friends, jealousy, fear, guilt, resentment, anger, regret, but most of all love.
Zwick manages to capture deep issues among a fairly large cast of characters, and weave them all together pretty well. It's a credit to his writing, and the actors, who bring charm and personality to their given roles, even if one or two are a tad underwritten. The rest of the film isn't without fault though. There are some scenes (without giving spoilers) that devolve into stereotypes of the genre, and a few situations feel a little too contrived. But when the film is on, it's rather well done for what it is.
Admittedly, I'm in the target audience for such a film. As such, I enjoyed it for what it was maybe more than I should have, considering its faults. There are many movies considered classics for the way they capture growing up in high school, or college. This is a film about that period just after college when we still don't feel like adults, and need reunions with our closest college friends when social networks just aren't enough.