Book stores. Porn emporiums. Blockbuster Video. 10 Years. These are just a few of the things that the internet has made relatively pointless, but they all have their charms. We can buy our books, jerk off mightily, watch a movie and keep in touch with our high school friends just fine without leaving the house anymore, so all those stores – and the new film about a contemporary high school reunion – feel like nostalgic relics of a bygone era. Granted, that era’s just ten years gone, but hey, if I have to feel old then so do you.
American Reunion couldn’t get away with its ugliness and judgmental attitudes, but it got away with the high school reunion conceit because audiences were familiar with the characters and hadn’t seen them together on screen in years. 10 Years tries to get away with its concept by flooding the screen with recognizable faces in roles so formulaic they feel like you already know them. Channing Tatum is about to get engaged, but first has to come to terms with his high school sweetheart, played by Rosario Dawson. Justin Long and Max Minghella are both jealous of each other’s success – one in business, the other in marriage – but are each trying to make time with the girl who got away, played by Lynn Collins. Oscar Isaac is the class celebrity, who’s back in town for mysterious reasons having to do with his hit single.
It’s a testament to the cast – which also includes Ron Livingston, Ari Graynor, Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt – that 10 Years plays as well as it does. The plot contrivances are familiar, the jokes largely milquetoast, and the life lessons are obvious to the casual viewer. People move on, people get closer together, and occasionally it’s harmless and sweet. And occasionally it’s very creepy. Late in the film, Long and Minghella decide to follow Lynn Collins home, reacting to their perceived rejection the same way you’d expect them to in a Nikkatsu Roman movie. Sure, their ultimate goal is to toilet paper her house, but lurking in the shadows and whispering about the cathartic vengeance they yearn to unleash gives the impression that something infinitely darker was on someone’s mind, at least on a subconscious level. Eventually it flips around and tugs at the heartstrings, so… that's good, but the creepiness lingers long afterwards.
There are isolated moments of memorable character work and mild life-affirming joy, but with a story spread this thin (and one that was pretty thin to begin with) 10 Years never has enough substance to warrant its own existence. If you want to see Channing Tatum being charming, you have every other film he’s made. If you want to see a character play their original song to a female listener in the audience who comes to a realization, you have Nashville. If you want to see wiggers making good… actually, this might be one to watch. 10 Years is nothing new, and nothing terribly special, but it’s well intentioned and not a chore to sit through. I expect more from my sincere nostalgic dramas, but if you don’t, it gets a lot worse than 10 Years.