Channing Tatum had an extremely busy and sweet year: “Haywire,” “The Vow,” “21 Jump Street,” and, most of all, “Magic Mike.” His latest, “10 Years,” directed and written by newcomer Jamie Linden, gives audiences one more chance to see him in action this year.
Tatum’s raised himself to a new level by selecting a nice variety of parts and by establishing a strong alliance with director/mentor Steven Soderbergh. He’s also been conveying considerably more warmth on screen than many of today’s pretty boys in Hollywood, including Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds.
Tatum definitely brings that warmth to “10 Years” in a subdued performance for this school reunion story. This one’s in the vein of “The Big Chill” (1983) but about a million degrees cuter, occasionally reaching “Valentine’s Day”/“New Year’s Eve” fructose levels.
Jake (Tatum) and a bunch of his scattered friends are meeting again ten years after their graduation from Lake Howell High School. He arrives with his new soulmate, Jess (Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Tatum’s wife), whom he’s been for some reason hesitant to propose to. It’s obvious that she’s committed and ready, but the engagement ring’s been stuffed away in an envelope in his glove compartment for many months now. The two lovers can share the same piece of gum, but will they be able to share the rest of their lives?
The main drama in “10 Years,” which comes with a bushel of subplots, is whether Jake will somehow get inspired by the reunion proceedings to finally pop the question or get swayed by his high school honey, Mary (Rosario Dawson), who wasn’t supposed to show up but has (with her stiff-as-a-board husband, no less).
Unresolved issues: yes, these have to be addressed everywhere and by everyone in “10 Years.” “We all have messes,” concludes AJ (Max Minghella), apparently speaking for all Lake Howell alumni.
Everyone’s taking the occasion to reassess—with plenty of drinks and some weed, too. There’s a “boys will be boys” air to this gathering, although the girls wind up holding their own.
But most of the characters here lack flavor, even the rock star among them (Oscar Isaac). Linden’s a much better director than writer: this ensemble’s convincing from beginning to end, despite their roles being severely undercooked.
It’s an impressive array of some of the finest second-tier young actors working in Hollywood today. In addition to those already mentioned, the cast includes Chris Pratt, Justin Long, Kate Mara, Lynn Collins, Ari Graynor, and Anthony Mackie; Tatum and Dawson function as prom king and queen.
In one of the more compelling subplots, Pratt plays Cully, a former bully who’s trying to apologize to everyone he ever wronged back in the day. He practically forces each of his former victims to acknowledge and accept his regrets. Obviously, it’s just a new form of abusiveness; the poor loser really hasn’t changed that much.
The rock star subplot, as silly as it is—he reapproaches his favorite girl from school (Mara), whom he wrote his biggest hit about, which she’s never even heard—is probably the best “10 Years” has to offer, thanks to Isaac and Mara showing a real connection.
“10 Years” may be lightweight stuff, but it isn’t a bad addition to Tatum’s resume for 2012. As with “Magic Mike,” it evidences that he’s a team player whose future’s looking brighter each year.
Hopefully, the same goes for the rest of the “10 Years” team. This film will be interesting to look at ten years from now, when we know how each of these budding careers wound up looking.