As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite things about chick flicks (defined here, subjectively, as: “movies I would want to see with my girlfriends”) is the emotional connection that can form between characters and the audience when a movie is centered around a common life experience. This bond allows the audience to empathize with the characters and to derive life lessons from the characters’ successes or failures.
Now, they say that it is uncouth–and in some cases, downright dangerous–to ask a lady her age. But, as it is relevant to today’s topic, I’m going to share this information freely: I’m 26. Despite having a year-and-a-half to go, I am already nervous about my ten-year high school reunion. I think we can all agree that these milestones are important and should be celebrated…but what if everyone has a better or more impressive life than I do? How do you avoid regressing to your 18-year-old self, full of self-doubt and inclined toward self-deprecating comparisons to your classmates? How do you relax enough to enjoy yourself?
Luckily, 10 Years–out in limited release this Friday, September 14, and expanding September 21–may be able to help. Written and directed by Jamie Linden, and starring (alphabetically) Lynn Collins, Rosario Dawson, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Brian Geraghty, Ari Graynor, Oscar Isaac, Ron Livingston, Justin Long, Anthony Mackie, Kate Mara, Max Minghella, Aubrey Plaza, Scott Porter, Chris Pratt, Channing Tatum, and Aaron Yoo, 10 Years follows a group of friends who gather for their ten-year high school reunion, bringing significant others and/or significant baggage with them.
Having seen and loved 10 Years, I’d like to share some of the lessons, or “Reunion Rules,” I learned…and do my best not to spoil any of the movie’s truly endearing twists and surprises in the process.
Reunion Rule #1: Know Your Liquid Courage Limit and Stick to It.
When we’re nervous about something, some of us like to intake a little liquid courage before confronting it. We’re all adults here, so there’s nothing wrong with tossing back one (or a few) with your closest friends before heading over to the actual reunion.
But, be warned: if your reunion features an open bar, adjust your pre-gaming appropriately and question whether you really need that to-go flask. You’re not as young as you used to be, your tolerance has changed, and nerves can make people do downright strange and stupid things.
For the love of goodness have at least some respect for your date and/or friends, and avoid being that girl or that guy by knowing your limit and sticking to it. You may not see many of your classmates again until the next reunion, and five or ten years is a long time for them to have that mental image of you.
Also, you’ll hardly be able to contribute to the always fun, morning-after recap brunch if you can’t remember anything about the night before. (Though, you’ll probably feature prominently in many of the stories told….)
Reunion Rule #2: Appearances Can Be Deceiving.
There is no doubt that each of us is our own best PR agent. We put out the exact story we want others to know (and tell anyone they may talk to). This is one thing when we’re having the mandatory, early-in-the-evening, awkward, superficial, ‘how have you been and what are you up to’ conversations–but how much do (or should) we fudge the truth when talking to our best friends?
You can confidently share whatever BS you’d like with everyone else all night long, but eventually, your true friends will call you on it. Don’t be afraid to come clean with them. Just because you’re not quite what or where you thought you be by this point doesn’t mean you won’t get there in the future. Not only will they be behind you while you work toward your goals, but they’ll be the happiest and proudest people celebrating with you when you succeed.
And, don’t sweat whatever comparisons you might be tempted to make between your life and others’. Remember: they can BS as easily as you can.
Reunion Rule #3: You Can’t Make Up for 4 Years In 1 Night.
After ten years, even those among us who are not the brightest crayon in the emotional box are likely to feel that an apology for damage done in high school is appropriate. While this is not a bad instinct, remember that you can’t undo four years of damage in a single night. You have no idea how what you did (or didn’t do) to someone else affected their life, then or now. Don’t expect complete forgiveness to be graciously handed over in exchange for your one mere moment of repentance. Apologize, for sure, but accept that which you receive in return, good or bad, and move on. Otherwise you run the risk of adding another night of torment to whatever laundry list of wrongs you’ve already got against you.
Reunion Rule #4: The One Who Got Away May Not Be Lost Forever, But You’ll Never Know If You Don’t Ask.
Many of us had a guy or girl in high school who we thought was ‘the one.’ Some are inclined to doubt that it’s possible to meet ‘the one’ in high school. (I think it is.) Others fear that the one who got away was really ‘the one,’ and look upon the time that has passed since as wasted time. And then there’s some who never got up to the plate at all–those who, in a haze of teen anxiety and self-doubt, forgot that if you never try, you’ll never know what could have happened.
Because life often throws a curveball when you’re expecting a fastball, you’ll probably run into ‘the one’ at your reunion. Remember that nothing is impossible but that which we don’t attempt, take a deep breath, and go talk to him or her. You have no idea what he or she thought about you then, or could think about you now. Take a shot and give it your all. If you strike out, then you have five or ten years to get over any embarrassment or hurt. But, if you’re lucky, your courage may bring about the start of something new and great.
Warning: if your ‘the one’ shows up with their ‘the one,’ gauge the situation before pouring your heart out. A simple ‘I had such a huge crush on you in high school’ is unlikely to do any real damage. But if they’re happy, think twice (at least) before doing or saying something that could disrupt that, just because you feel like this is your one and only chance to get it all off your chest. Similarly, if you attend the reunion with someone you think could be ‘the real one,’ be wary of letting the romance of nostalgia totally f*ck up your life in the present.
Reunion Rule #5: Your Past Does Not Have to Define Your Present or Your Future.
At 28, it’s unlikely that you will be the same person you were at 18…and that’s ok. On some level, many of us long for what we retrospectively call the simpler times, when we were just one of ‘the girls’ or one of ‘the boys.’ But unless your name is Peter Pan, we all grow up at some point.
After the reunion proper, during an after-party at the local bar, Scott (Porter) rhetorically asks the other 10 Years characters: “Why look back when you have so much to look forward to?” He’s right. Reunions are a rite of passage whereby we go back to the places and people of our past for a night so that we can consciously and confidently choose to continue moving forward. Our past will shape our future–but it shouldn’t keep us from it.
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So, dear Readers, I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lessons and I strongly encourage you to gather your friends, go see 10 Years this weekend or next, and share your 10 Years‘ Reunion Rules with me in the comments below!
10 Years (PG-13, 100 min.) opens tomorrow (Friday, September 14) in New York and Los Angeles, and expands next Friday (September 21) to: Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX: Evanston, IL; Eden Prarie/Minneapolis, MN; Lake Buena Vista/Orlando, FL; Plano, TX; San Francisco, CA; Scottsdale, AZ; and Washington, DC.
Want more chick flicks?
First, check out previous This Chick’s Flicks pieces.
Then, stay tuned to Screen Invasion for This Chick’s Flicks posts on chick flicks of now and then.
All photos: © 2012 – Anchor Bay Films.