Movie Review - 10 Years

Oscar Isaac (left), Anthony Mackie (rear)
and Channing Tatum (right) in "10 Years"
Jamie Linden wrote and directed the film 10 Years. It's Linden's directorial debut. The star of the second major Hollywood film he wrote Dear John was Channing Tatum. Tatum also stars and produces this film. Tatum plays Jake, a mortgage broker who takes his girlfriend Jess to his 10-year, high school reunion, Lake Howell High School in New Mexico. They meet up at the house of Jake's best friend, Cully, played by Chris Pratt.

Unlike Jake, Cully is married with kids. He is perhaps envious of his other best friend, Reeves, played by Oscar Isaac. Reeves is a musician, a pretty famous one thanks to his hit song, "Never Had." Included in the core group are Marley and AJ, played respectively by Justin Long and Max Minghella. Marley is a single, hot-shot living in Manhattan, while AJ is a married man from the suburbs, most likely the east coast too but maybe the midwest.

Rounding out the nine, twenty-something people who first meet at Cully's house is Scott, played by Scott Porter. Scott is there with his Japanese girlfriend and plans to move to Japan permanently. Scott is perhaps the only guy without an agenda or some kind of secret from high school that haunts him.

Linden gives himself a pretty difficult task of having to juggle all these characters. He puts them in one room for one night and has to find a way to make it interesting and develop most if not all of their characters in under 100 minutes. Yet, Linden doesn't stop there. Linden also weaves more characters. Garrity and Olivia, played by Brian Geraghty and Aubrey Plaza, are introduced. Garrity has a secret past that his girlfriend Olivia doesn't know. His old friend Andre, played by Anthony Mackie, shows up and threatens to spoil that secret.

This is at most a C-story line. The B-story line involves Anna, played by Lynn Collins. Anna was probably a cheerleader in high school, the hot chick that every boy most likely wanted. She's still very much the hot chick, all dolled up when she appears at the reunion. Marley and AJ take an interest in her and start to follow her. As a result, personal stuff is unraveled about all three.

The A-story line involves Jake and his girlfriend Jess, played by Jenna Dewan-Tatum. It also involves Jake and his ex-girlfriend from high school Mary, played by Rosario Dawson. Despite Mary having a husband named Paul, played by Ron Livingston, she might still possess feelings for Jake. Jake might still possess feelings for Mary, but, thankfully, this potential love triangle isn't treated with the same melodrama that one might expect. Linden is simple and more realistic, which makes it that much more powerful.

I like all the performances. I like all of them, particularly in light of the fact that it's not merely a reunion of these characters. It's also a reunion of these actors. Many of whom have worked together in recent projects or ones that go back several years, maybe not 10 but still.

Channing Tatum and Rosario Dawson reunite from A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006), despite the two of them not having a scene together in that movie. Brian Geraghty and Anthony Mackie reunite from The Hurt Locker (2009) and We Are Marshall (2006), which Linden also wrote. Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza reunite from Parks and Recreations, the TV series that's still on-going. A lot of the other cast members have reunions too like Oscar Isaac and Max Minghella from Agora (2009). Scott Porter comes from Dear John and Kate Mara comes from We Are Marshall.

The true breakout performances are the ones that really surprise. There are three specifically that are great. The first is Chris Pratt whose character of Cully, the former bully, might seem like he would only be one note, but, if you watch him, especially early on, you'll see that he's got so much going on. Pratt easily plays the loud, drunk buffoon, but there are moments where he subtly shows that there are layers to his character.

The second breakout performance is Lynn Collins whose character of Anna might seem one note as well. Yet, as the movie enters the last act, Anna becomes a more complex person that jumps off the screen past the hot, possibly ditzy cheerleader persona that she perhaps was.

The third breakout is Oscar Isaac who people will know from Drive (2011) and Sucker Punch (2011). Both those movies I didn't like but I did like Isaac's performances in both. He played bad guys in both whereas here he's more of a romantic lead, more akin to his role in Madonna's W.E. (2011). What's the surprise is how great a singer and musician he is. His rendition of "Never Had" is by far the single-most romantic thing I've seen in a movie all year and literally made my heart melt.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for language, alcohol abuse, sexual material and drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 40 mins.


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