I can recall for years hearing about “The Big Chill”. That it was an amazing movie and the critical acclaim did nothing but support this honor. Being a fan of cinema and a bit of a movie buff I finally decided last night to watch the movie. The only thing I knew about the flick was it was an ensemble piece, had fine actors and actresses and all of KevinCostner’s scenes were deleted. After I watched this movie I felt rather quizzical. Not really sure what I had just watched for an hour and forty-five minutes. I am sure I will be under fire for what I am about to say, but here goes nothing.
The plot is simple, a bunch of college friends reunite after many years apart. Which sounds nice, but the catalyst of this “homecoming” was the suicide of their mutual friend Alex (the deleted Kevin Costner). All of these college friends, now adults spend the weekend together to catch up on old and new times. Sounds interesting right? Not so much.
These are some of the most one dimensional and superficial people I have ever seen in a movie. In some ways this is a good and bad thing, good in the sense that the acting in this movie is actually pretty good. It was bad in the sense that I had no real investment in anyone nor did I care what happened to these characters.
Sam (Tom Berenger): Has become a famous TV star and plays a poor man’s Magnum, P.I.; despite his fame he feels empty and not sure if he is “making a difference with his life”.
Harold (Kevin Kline): Married to Sarah and is hosting the weekend get together. He is a rather successful sales man in the sneaker business. He likes his friends, but is somewhat put off that they are staying at his house.
Sarah (Glenn Close): Married to Harold and had an affair with Alex years prior. She also seems to have reservations about opening so many doors to the past.
Michael (Jeff Goldblum): Is a famous journalist yet has desires to open a night club. He acts like a real “player” but comes off as a dork who tells really bad jokes.
Nick (William Hurt): Is an angry boy trapped in a man’s body. He uses myriad controlled substance through out the film and “can’t get it up”. It seems he is pissed at Alex for committing suicide before he could.
Chloe (Meg Tilly): She was Alex’s girlfriend up to the day he died and never really offered any insight about Alex’s current state of affairs. She spends a great deal of time stretching and doing yoga via putting her legs over her head. Her best quality is to act rather vapid.
Karen (JoBeth Williams): She purposely married a man who is the polar opposite of her father and is miserable. However, her husband is rich so it is all good right? Wrong she is totally smitten with Sam and is chasing him the entire film…
Meg (Mary Kay Place): Hasn’t had much luck with men, in her late 30s she is still single and wants to have a child. She has a plan to have one of the men at the weekend party get her pregnant. The way this story line plays out is really CREEPY!!!
As for their relationship with the estranged Alex, no one ever really spoke about how his death influenced them. It would be addressed and then dropped. The character of Alex was nothing more than a plot device, which is fine, but to keep bringing up “how they felt” and not concentrate on it made the entire notion seem rather shop worn and dull.
On to the weekend itself all of these people spent together. I am not sure about anyone else who watched this movie, but this seemed like the longest weekend in the world. The last time I checked, there was only two days in the weekend. This super weekend leaves the door open to the issues of sex, politics, philosophy, idealism and the meaning of life. Again some spicy stuff, yet the execution, rather the writing was very lackluster and slow moving. So here is the equation, poor writing plus unsympathetic characters equals “I don’t care”.
The movie only had a middle, no real beginning and no real end. I am cool with that, because that is what life is in many ways. This movie nailed that on the head. However, the middle was just empty. I began to question who had really committed suicide. As for the soundtrack, yeah there were some good tunes and most of them were played at very odd times. For instance, everyone drives to the graveyard to bury their friend and jovial tunes of 1960s cascade in the background. Huh?
I honestly believe that this movie was a sign of the times and a period piece. I was six years old when this movie was released. Perhaps if I were 30 something when this was came out I might have loved it. Notwithstanding, technology in modern times has made keeping in touch much easier. Ultimately the acting is good but had its determents and the location shots in Beaufort, South Carolinawere really pretty. Nevertheless, “The Big Chill” certainly has myriad meanings: The world being a cold place and warmth is with friends, everybody is just hanging out, death of a loved one is a wake up call, the feeling I had when the movie was over or that weird thing with Meg and her pregnancy!!
Pros: Writing, directing, acting, soundtrack Cons: none The Bottom Line: Good tunes and good acting, what else do you want? On occasion I like to re-watch The Big Chill to give myself a fun dose of reality. Sure the thing is dated, but the idea of forming friendships never goes out of style, and the music is classic. The story centers on a group of college students that were once living on the edge, … more
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Seven members of a close-knit college group of friends are reunited fifteen years later after the eighth commits suicide. The funeral and reception lead to an extended weekend for all as they decide to spend time together pondering the recent events. Amidst a barrage of Motown classics, the members each offer little tidbits about their current lives while reminiscing about the past. In college, the absent and recently deceased Alex was the biggest and brightest star of the bunch but never seemed to get anywhere after being set loose in the real world. The slow acknowledgement that their champion never materialized leads the group in ever widening circles of thought. Discussions of their past lives and current bring about the realization that each has changed so much while remaining remarkably similar. Despite the tragic circumstances, the group disperses with renewed friendships and a newfound appreciation for life.