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The Big Chill (1983)

Directed by:

Lawrence Kasdan

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 105 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

After reuniting for the funeral of a friend, a bunch of 30-something college pals spend a weekend together to find themselves coming to terms with life, death and a generational switch from hippy to yuppy. Their dead buddy committed suicide, and I couldn’t help but wonder which member of this miserable crowd would be next. If the film had dragged on for much longer, it would probably have been me.

Included in this self-engrossed gaggle are an off-puttingly young-looking Kevin Kline, a perennially dour-faced Glenn Close, a baby-craving Mary Kay Place, and Tom Berenger as the moustachioed star of a ‘Magnum’-style hit TV series. There are others, too, and the lot of them then proceed to sit around talking, sometimes having a laugh, sometimes getting on each other’s nerves, and sometimes just deciding to doze off. I can get all that from my own friends: why would I want to watch it happening in a film?

There’s little doubting that this is a well-acted piece of work. In fact, it’s probably exactly the sort of film that most actors love to take part in, because – with the exception of Berenger, who has to repeatedly attempt leaping into the driver’s seat of a convertible – they get to talk a lot without actually doing much else. Yup, if talk is cheap, then ‘The Big Chill’ must have cost peanuts. My problem with all that talking, though, isn’t just that it goes on for what seems like forever: it’s that, despite the sterling efforts of the cast, none of it seems real. That’s the fault of writer-director Lawrence Kasdan, who’s penned a ream of dialogue so disgustingly sharp, intelligent and witty that it’s instantly recognisable as pre-prepared fiction. People just don’t talk like this.

Easily the best thing about this viewing experience is the soundtrack, but even that is so brilliant that in a twisted way it becomes another of the film’s flaws. After all, how can you be expected to concentrate on such mundane goings-on when a procession of the music world’s finest sons are belting out their best-known numbers over the top of it all? The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye are all in there, and there are several occasions where the temptation to block out the dullards on-screen and just listen to the music becomes all too much.

It's Got: The Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ played on a church organ. It doesn’t get much better than that.

It Needs: Kevin Kline to find himself a more respectably-lengthed pair of running shorts. In the things he’s chosen he looks like he could be the victim of a horrific spillage at any moment. In fact, it’s exactly for that reason that I was more than a little wary of watching the deleted scenes!

DVD Extras 10-minutes worth of deleted scenes, a surprisingly extensive 55-minute documentary, cast filmographies and a trailer (not a trailer for the movie itself, but for DVDs in general!! I love that. It cracks me up). Version reviewed: The Big Chill DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

The Breakfast Club

Summary

As an advertisement for a musical-greats compilation album it’s an unequivocal success – but, as a film, it left me in a bit of a chill.

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