TIFF Review: Ten Year

Ten Year is a pretty good example of what happens when people stop being polite ... and start getting cliched. There are six primary relationships to consider, one of which almost works, the rest of which are marvelously predictable. Ten Year is like Beautiful Girls, only massively contrived, and for people who are tired of thinking. Which isn't to say it's all bad -- it's not, there are real moments of levity and intrigue sprinkled throughout the 100-minute running time, and many of the leads are pleasant enough. If "just OK" is the goal, they've made it. If you want a little more rom and com in your rom-com then this could be considered mostly forgettable, or mostly harmless, depending on your disposition.

The title refers to a high school reunion. Ten years ago Lake Howell High School was home to a bully, a pair of star-crossed lovers, a future pop star, a "party girl," and so on and so forth. And now they are all returning home for the reunion. If you've seen The Breakfast Club you'll be fine recognizing the archetypes presented here. If you haven't seen The Breakfast Club just go watch that so that you can appreciate the next 25 years of film it influenced. Ten Year also draws heavily from the American Pie franchise, though not nearly as depraved ... or focused. This is an instance where more actors equals much less clarity.

There are quite a few names you've heard of in this film. List mode! Channing Tatum, Aubrey Plaza, Justin Long, Kate Mara, Chris Pratt, Ron Livingston, and Rosario Dawson are the biggies, but another half dozen performers are available to you as well. I wouldn't go picking a favorite though, because simple math suggests you're not going to get more than 10 minutes of screen time with any given performer. This leads to much in the way of temporary entertainment followed immediately by an annoying interruption. If there's a standout in the group it's Oscar Isaac, who plays a pop star returning home, where he's in the odd position of having his high school classmates as fans. This is a worthy plot line -- a whole movie could have been made around this premise alone -- but unfortunately it receives far too little air to deliver fully on the promise. It's also the one aspect of the film where the cliche doesn't weigh down the work, as Isaac rises above the material to create a little "entertainment bubble" of happiness. Kudos to him!

What's most frustrating about Ten Year is there's likely a solid movie in there somewhere. Certain characters overstay their welcome, but the film opens well enough and there are a good dozen laughs to be had. There's also a reasonable amount of goodwill built up as the film rounds for home, but having everything culminate in cheese-tacular fashion as the film winds down leads to eye-rolling disconnection. Oddly enough, Ten Year faces the same problem as most high school reunions: the idea and anticipation far outshines the actual event.

Grade: C-