I’m trying something a little bit different with this review, and that’s okay because it’s my blog, and it’s self-serving anyway and that’s okay too. : )
The commentary is broken into two parts. Part one is my initial reaction after seeing the movie, informed only by whatever conversations I’ve had with the people I watched it with (This means you, Wanda!). The second will be reactions to and reflections upon critical reviews, IMDB and Wikipedia notes, etc.
So why do I feel like I should like this movie much more than I actually did? Maybe it’s the all-star cast. Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Meg Tilly. They’re all good. Also, I’m pretty sure it was nominated for at least one oscar, what about that then? And finally, it’s a kind of movie I usually like. Arty. Independent. Touching on weighty, important themes, such as death, idealism, and the meaning and value of life. Yet I didn’t like it at all. Maybe my expectations were just too high because of those things previously mentioned. In any event, I found it to be one of the most boring, predictable, unfunny movies I’ve seen in a while. None of the lines (a possible exception being Hurt’s tirade toward the end) are particularly memorable, nor is the soundtrack, and yes I know my saying so is practically blasphemous, but classic though they may be, none of these songs ventures off the beaten path. Maybe if I could have identified with some of the characters a bit more. I don’t know people like that, and except for the William Hurt and Meg Tilly characters, they weren’t even interesting. Speaking of the Meg Tilly character, I found her frustrating as I kept expecting some sort of big reveal, a crucial scene wherein she would deliver the most memorable lines, revealing a character with surprising depth, but the closest we ever get to it is the scene where William Hurt is filming her. Likewise, when Hurt finds the stack of the deceased’s papers, the film seems poised to become much more interesting. Yeah, not so much. It’s anticlimactic, as is the announcement that these two characters are staying behind together. It just seems tacked on.
As for the critics, well, Roger Ebert had this interesting tidbit: “The Big Chill is a splendid technical exercise. It has all the right moves. It knows all the right words. Its characters have all the right clothes, expressions, fears, lusts and ambitions. But there’s no payoff and it doesn’t lead anywhere. I thought at first that was a weakness of the movie. There also is the possibility that it’s the movie’s message.” Hummm, that would be clever. Certainly, it’s a movie that tries to be clever. And if Ebert is right in his assessment, then it tried too hard!