People tend to freak out a little when it comes to their ten year high school reunion. They see it as a chance to make up for past regrets, prove how well they’re doing (even if they’re not), and regress a bit to the meaningless drama of our teenage years. Jamie Linden’s Ten Year gets the meaningless drama part. Following a group of male friends and their female appendages, Ten Year features redundant storylines, a dearth of humor, an almost total lack of creativity, and a waste of a perfectly good cast.
Jake (Channing Tatum), Cully (Chris Pratt), Reeves (Oscar Isaac), AJ (Max Minghella), and Marty (Justin Long) are all headed to their ten year high school reunion. Cully sees it as a chance to make amends to all the nerds he bullied. Jake sees it as a chance to reconnect with his Mary (Rosario Dawson), a girl he was attracted to. Reeves sees it as a chance to reconnect with Elise (Kate Mara), a girl he was attracted to. AJ and Mitch see it as a chance to reconnect with Anna (Lynn Collins), a girl they were attracted to. Surrounding these plots lines are satellite characters who don’t deserve mentioning since they add nothing to film except for an amusing running gag between an alumni who used to be a wigger and his wife (Aubrey Plaza) who is just now discovering this fact.
I’m not against having a “guy reconnects with attractive girl” plotline. I’m against having three of them. Of the trio, the Reeves-Elise story is the best since Isaac and Mara have a nice chemistry and their story features a cute little twist. The Mitch and AJ plot never takes off because you never feel that these guys are best friends and the conclusion of the storyline is painfully saccharine. As for Jake and Mary, not only is it inert, but every time Tatum was on screen I thought to myself “Where did that department store mannequin come from and how did he learn to speak?”
The plotline that works the best is Cully’s because not only is it moderately creative but because Pratt brings energy to a film that desperately needs it. He’s funny, he’s physical, he knows how to play drunk in a creative fashion, and he’s one of the few actors who doesn’t seem to be sleepwalking through the picture. The only shortcoming of his performance is that the character is written to be a jerk but Pratt is too likable to pull of that part of the role. It’s not a bad problem to have.
An absolutely terrible problem to have is not writing a single female-led storyline. Perhaps Linden doesn’t feel comfortable writing about characters who have vaginas but there is not an active female character in the film. Every female character exists through the lens of the male characters. Apparently this high school didn’t have women who were looking to make amends or get revenge or show up their peers or reconnect with a guy or anything to make them an active rather than a reactive character. Linden defines his female characters but he never gives them anything to do except be wooed by the male characters or annoyed by the male characters.
After the film, Linden told the audience that he was inspired to write the script by his recent ten year reunion. If that’s the case, he must have gone to a painfully dull high school where jokes fell flat, there was one funny person, and the women only spoke when spoken to.
For all of our coverage of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, click here. Also, here are links to all of my TIFF 2011 reviews so far: