Review: 'About Alex' is a wan 'Big Chill' for people who are like 28

Twentysomethings get their own reunion movie with "About Alex," in which a likeable cast (including Aubrey Plaza) goes through the motions in a cabin.

A bunch of old friends (and actors) hang out in "About Alex." Credit: Screen Media Films A bunch of old friends (and actors) hang out in "About Alex."
Credit: Screen Media Films

 

‘About Alex’
Director: Jesse Zwick
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Jason Ritter
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

 

What: “This is like one of those ’80s movies!” barks Aubrey Plaza late in this indie drama. She means a John Hughes film when this is actually “The Big Chill,” only made for people who graduated from college like eight years ago. Here, a pile of friends reunite in a cabin after one of them (Jason Ritter) attempts suicide.

 

The lowdown: On “The Big Chill” knockoff scale, this ranks just above “Peter’s Friends," which isn't saying very much. The inclusion of a failed suicide sometimes adds something painfully real, with the characters believably debating whether to ignore it or discuss it full-on. But it winds up falling back on comforting cliches, if not outright lies. At the end of the day it’s more scared of blunt honesty than its characters.

 

Still, what power it has is mostly in the likeable cast. Plaza in particular brings a full-bodied performance. In the comedies “The To-Do List” and “Life After Beth” she can be arch and remote, but she gives her character a full spectrum of emotions, thrillingly moving from funny to hurt on a dime. Then again, this also has a guy with a serious beard and no sense of humor who says things like, “I’m a truth-teller.” And right on the hour-mark this laid-back hang-out film turns very, very serious, which is to say melodramatic.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 
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