This film is a real surprise. 10 Years is a movie about a high school reunion gathering together a who's who of young talent from TV and film (some of whom are far younger than their characters) could end up being a real mess, but first-time director Jamie Linden (who previously wrote We Are Marshall and Dear John) displays an incredible level of control here. He juggles multiple story lines and a huge ensemble and somehow manages to make all of them seem important, avoiding giving any particular set-up short shrift. Even better, he plays the whole thing with a disarming sincerity. The film has its light moments, but Linden's script never resorts to slapstick or easy cliches. (Imagine this as an updated sequel to Can't Hardly Wait; if you liked that film, you'll like 10 Years).
MVPs here are not stars Rosario Dawson and Channing Tatum (who also produces), but the really the lower-billed actors who anchor the other story lines. In particular, Chris Pratt and the always marvelous Ari Graynor as the former bully and his high school sweetheart, and Oscar Isaac, usually typecast as the villainous douchebag, and Kate Mara as the musician and the girl who never knew she was his muse. One couple shows how some things never change and how dreams ironically both die and somehow survive as a result of familiarity; the other is meant to illustrate how second chances are indeed possible. The moment when Mara realizes what is really going on is moving and romantic. Have Kleenex handy.
Perhaps the best thing about 10 Years, though, is that it doesn't shoot for big finales. Epiphanies occur and lessons are learned, but they are more firecrackers than fireworks. This keeps 10 Years from ever feeling fake. It's funny and it's heartfelt and it's meaningful, but it's not earnest, not in any way that is off-putting or underhanded. Instead, you end up a guest at a wonderful party, a little hungover the next morning, but largely glad you decided to attend.
10 Years is out on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow, December 18. This Blu-Ray was provided by the studio for purpose of review.
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