I’m getting together with nine pals from college today for our annual boys’ weekend. After the last guy got married several years ago we realized that we wouldn’t have the wedding circuit to guarantee regular reunions, so we decided to organize our own annual outings. Our tribe of ten includes a doctor (Greg), three lawyers (JB, Patrick, Steve), a college professor (John), a judge (Paul), an Air Force pilot (Lawrence), a tech guru (Josh), a business executive (Andy) and a guy who runs an awards show (moi.)
We take turns hosting the yearly gathering; wives and kids are booted from their homes and the dudes take over for 48 hours. Occasionally we’ll partake in some organized activity — a round of golf, a canoe trip, a hike — but mostly we just drink beer and catch up. We’ll gather at JB’s house in Atlanta this weekend, flying in from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, California, Washington DC, New Jersey and New York to partake in the festivities.
Getting together with the old crew provides lots of belly laughs and an occasional intense moment or two. Just like in the movies! While packing for this weekend’s trip I started thinking about the merriment, silliness and drama that ensues in reunion-themed films. The reasons for the reunions may vary, but the conceit never gets old.
The high school reunion movie is alive and well: 10 Years (Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson) is in theaters now and American Reunion (Stifler, Stifler’s mom) was released earlier this year. My personal favorites in the genre are both from 1997: Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and Grosse Pointe Blank. The former provides lots of laughs as Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino make up all sorts of stuff to impress the mean girls who teased them back in the day, and the latter gives us the surprisingly red-hot chemistry between John Cusack and Minnie Driver and the classic line, “What am I gonna say? ‘I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How have you been?’” It’s just dawning on me that 1997 was fifteen years ago, so this year would be the 25th reunions for these characters if their stories continued. Love that.
While I futilely wait for a reunion movie featuring the kids from Camp (2003) — in which I first discovered Anna Kendrick and knew she’d be a star — I’ll settle for Indian Summer. The 1993 drama stars Matt Craven, Diane Lane, Bill Paxton, Elizabeth Perkins, Kevin Pollack, Vincent Spano, Julie Warner and Kimberly Williams as chums who reunite at the camp where they all met as kids. It’s basically a poor man’s Big Chill, but the autumnal setting is stunning and the movie marked the turning point where I could finally differentiate between Elizabeth Perkins and Elizabeth McGovern. (They look nothing alike… but I got them confused for years. After seeing Indian Summer I finally shouted, “Got it! Perkins was in About Last Night and Big, while McGovern appeared in Ordinary People and She’s Having a Baby.) Mystery solved!
FOLK SINGING GROUPS
If Shakes the Clown is, indeed, “the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies” and if This is Spinal Tap “does for rock and roll what The Sound of Music did for hills,” then A Mighty Wind is the The Godfather of folk music mockumentaries and does for reunion concerts what Vertigo did for, well, vertigo. (For the record, even I struggle with that last sentence.) A Town Hall tribute concert to honor the recently departed folk music icon Irving Steinbloom reunites The Folksmen (Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer) and Mitch & Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara) and the New Main Street Singers (John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, et al.) Hilarity ensues, along with some actually decent music. There’s not enough room in all the blogs in the world to hold the love I have for this flick.
The granddaddy of all reunion movies, The Big Chill features a stellar cast (Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, JoBeth Williams) who gather for the funeral of their friend/classmate (a never-seen-because-all-his-flashback-scenes-ended-up-on-the-cutting-room-floor Kevin Costner.) The film brilliantly captures the yuppy angst felt by this group of former idealists, all set to a spectacular Motown soundtrack that spawned not one but two hit records. I can’t wash dishes without hearing The Temptations “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” playing in my head, and it’s all I can do to not use a recently-dried dinner plate as a faux tambourine as I put them away.
I leave you now to consider your favorite reunion movies as I head off for my own Big Chill weekend. Here’s hoping that no one ends up sobbing on the shower floor, a la Glenn Close.
The Big Chill
A Mighty Wind
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion