Premise: Dan (Jack Black) is the self-declared alumni chairperson of his twenty year class reunion, and not enough people are RSVPing that they want to go. After seeing a commercial for sun tan lotion featuring a former classmate, Oliver Lawless (James Marsden), the ultimate cool kid from high school; he goes on a mission to fly to California in order to convince Oliver to come to the reunion, so that in turn more people will show up. That’s all just the first act, as well. There’s a twist after this plot point that is quite the spoiler, but I probably couldn’t keep talking about the movie if I don’t give it away, so the rest of this crappy review will have SPOILERS.
Pros (again, really spoilery):
-There’s a genius twist of this movie, which I didn’t even know about because I had no idea what this movie was even about before I walked into the theater to watch it. It starts out as a typical dumb “bromance” movie, with Dan and Oliver hitting it off and almost instantly becoming best friends, going clubbing, comically doing drugs, being generally wacky and such. But then, after a night of too many indulgences, the two end up having sex, and the rest of the movie is Dan dealing with his inner conflict about what happened. Which is a pretty hilarious take on this genre, to be honest. Like I Love You, Man, but if Paul Rudd and Jason Segal had sex with each other.
-It’s also kind of great how after they have sex, the movie still isn’t totally about the fact that they had sex. It only keeps coming up because of Dan’s obsessive nature with the fact that doesn’t quite understand what happened. Oliver treats the entire thing like it wasn’t even a big deal. Great contrasting dynamic.
-Jack Black gets a lot of crap lately for his choice of roles, and to be fair, he’s had a few pretty bad movies in the last several years, but this and Bernie prove that he’s still got some talent left in the tank. I’m sure Goosebumps will put us right back in the groan department, though.
-I don’t think I’ve ever seen James Marsden be better. But also to be fair, I’ve always hated him as Cyclops. He’s great in this, though. It feels like the “later years” role he was born to play. If late thirties is considered later years? I say it is for pretty boy B-actors like Marsden.
-I think this movie could have probably even worked as a non-comedy starring a less polorizing guy as Jack Black, but it kind of elevates it that the protagonist is such a weird guy as Black is, who is now very egg-shaped and wears all his pants up to his nipples. That’s not to say that the homosexual relationship in the movie is simply a joke in its nature, but c’mon, it’s undoubtedly hilarious that James Marsden has sex with Jack Black.
-Even the side actors like Kathryn Hahn and Jeffrey Tambor do perfect in roles that aren’t even necessarily comedic, but fit their capabilities to a T.
-Dan’s constant lying and hole digging was very reminiscent of how dumb David Cross is in Todd Margaret, which I enjoyed, because Todd Margaret is awesome.
-I don’t know, I think that maybe even though I liked this movie plenty, it’s one of those films that I can’t possibly recommend to anyone out of fear of them going “What the hell was that?” It’s not quite a goofy comedy, and it’s not really a super intelligent comedy. It kind of sits in the middle, where it still has lots of dumb comedy in it, but it also pretty successfully tackles themes that feel way above what you’d normally expect from a high school reunion movie starring Jack Black. It’s a strange movie to describe.
-Not sure Dan needed to be such a “loser” for his role to work. He actually had all the characteristics of just being a normal guy, but then the other alumni characters are constantly putting him down like he’s a dork, and it felt a little cliché. I guess they couldn’t hire a guy like Jack Black without making him a lovable loser…?
Final Thoughts: I was entertained from start to finish, and I loved seeing where it was going to go next. But again, I don’t really know who the intended mass audience is for this thing, and in the long run, it will probably get lost in the shuffle, which is a shame.
8 out of 10