Talk about a misleading trailer and film synopsis. There is so much more to this film than “The head of a high school reunion committee travels to Los Angeles to track down the most popular guy from his graduating class and convince him to go to the reunion.” That’s just part of it.
Jack Black plays a character by the name of Dan Landsman. He is the head of the high school reunion committee and yes, he does travel to Los Angeles to track down the most popular guy from his graduating class, Oliver Lawless, played by James Marsden. So, he goes to Los Angeles (lying to his wife and boss that his main reason for going there is a business deal), and he meets up with Oliver. Now, it is soon revealed that Oliver doesn’t think of himself as straight or gay. He thinks of himself as “whatever”. After a night of partying, and of Dan trying to convince Oliver to go to the reunion, they make out and then have sex. This becomes very complicated for our main character, Dan, as he is married with two children. Upon returning home, Dan is conflicted with all kinds of emotions. It seems that he just doesn’t know how he feels. He can’t seem to explain to himself what happened. He’s confused. Oliver then comes to stay with the Landsman’s while he is in town for the reunion, which leads to a several awkward moments, and several moments where it seems like Dan may actually be jealous. Everything continues to boil all the way to the reunion where, in an explosive manner, Oliver reveals to everybody, including Dan’s wife, that they slept together. Ultimately, this is something that everybody is able to move past. Everybody accepts it as something that has happened. Oliver and Dan realize that it did actually mean something to the both of them. However, in the end, Oliver goes back to the City of Angeles, and Dan continues to be married to his wife (although, I’m sure they had to go through some kind of counseling. I mean, he did still cheat on his wife.) He then writes this great Facebook post, addressing everybody that was at the reunion. And, that my friends, is the end of the film.
That doesn’t make it sound like the film has a strong ending but, trust me, it does.
Jack Black is one of those actors who can be absolutely ridiculous in some films, and then do a complete 360. His performance is phenomenal in this film. He does so well with really conveying the confusion and the emotions that he is feeling. And he still plays things comically. James Marsden does wonderful. I, honestly, did not know that he and Jack Black could have sexual chemistry and then I saw it. But, like, honestly, can you blame the character of Dan? Have you seen what James Marsden looks like? Who wouldn’t have sex with that man? That’s the better question.
Anyway, I thought the writing in this film was done well. There were several funny lines throughout the film that made me actually laugh out loud. For example, when Dan’s wife, who is played by the always wonderful Kathryn Hahn, asks him, upon returning from Los Angeles “What about Lawless? Did you get him to come?…..to the reunion?” I actually laughed out loud. And there are moments like that throughout the film. They add the comedy to an otherwise very interesting character study.
You know, all in all, I would highly recommend this film. It’s not long. It’s run time is only an hour and forty minutes. It’s funny. And from the moment that our main character sleeps with Oliver Lawless, it is captivating. You want to know what’s going on in his head. You want to see how everything is going to unfold. It’s quite entertaining.