November 25, 2009

Movie Review: The Big Chill

I've always associated 'The Big Chill' with 'Diner'. Possibly because of its release date and large ensemble cast, more likely because they were next to one another in my Netflix queue for years.

While entertained enough and even occasionally moved by the film's depiction of aging friendships, I wasn't blown away. It hasn't aged particularly well, and not just because of its outdated plotlines (like a woman trying to seduce her male friends in order to get pregnant). The thing that put me off the most was its use of self-taped video confessions and conversations. This is a dated device that drives me crazy: Especially in the 80s, filmmakers used it as an attempt to comment on the voyeurism of their characters, but it rarely doesn't feel forced and insincere.

Most of the time, I was wishing the ensemble cast featured other actors, like Andie MacDowell instead of JoBeth Williams, and anyone else except Jeff Goldblum who was clunky in his role as a writer for People magazine who's more ambitious career plans involve opening a club (How noble?). I feel like Glenn Close was only nominated for an Academy Award because she cried, naked. And I won't even bring up Tom Berenger, since I'll never forgive him for not being Tom Bergeron - host of 'Dancing with the Stars' - which cost us a trivia victory. William Hurt & Kevin Kline (though the latter used a totally unnecessary Southern accent) really held the ensemble together.

All this being said, I can see where this film might fit into a film major's curriculum. I especially liked that the filmmaker really used the soundtrack as a storytelling device: While all of the movie takes place in the 80s, it relies on the audience understanding the characters' 60s-based backstories. The soundtrack - jammed full of 60s hits - serves this purpose.

7.5 Twix bars!