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2 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Big Chill, The
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by Slyder

"Remembering the good old days and looking ahead at the future"
5 stars

Arguably Lawrence Kasdanís best film, The Big Chill has received its share of praise as well as its share of backlash, but nevertheless itís an important movie due to the connection with the ďbaby boomĒ generation whom expected a future different than the one we have. My dad, whom is part of that generation, related to the films themes of nostalgia and angst and understood it almost immediately whereas I took a while to eventually get it and grasp its ideals. Ideals which have obviously dated the more time we pass on to the next decade.

Seven friends: Harold (Kevin Kline), his wife Sarah (Glenn Close), Sam (Tom Berenger), Michael (Jeff Goldblum), Nick (William Hurt), Karen (JoBeth Williams) and Meg (Mary Kay Place) reunite unfortunately to mourn the loss of one of their beloved, Alex (Kevin Costner, unseen) along with his girlfriend Chloe (Meg Tilly). After the funeral they all spend the weekend together to try and figure out what is it that drove Alex to its unprecedented suicide, as well as questioning their own values compared to todayís society.

In an ever-changing world, The Big Chill is a document of its time, just like Saturday Night Fever was to the 70ís, since it captured in that very moment how the ďbaby boomĒ generation and their ideals had grown (until then) over the past 20 years. To understand the angst of the characters in the film you must understand the reasons of that time in which they lived when they were young. The 60ís was a turbulent decade; you had the Vietnam War raging, JFKís and Martin Luther Kingís assassinations, The Cuban invasion black and womenís rights movements and the imminent presence of the Cold War. All of this was widely covered and depicted by the news media all around the country and the world. In other words, the government was constantly smeared due to all this information. So obviously the American youth reacted against their government since they didnít agree on American soldiers fighting a war that wasnít even theirs. And due to that social impact, the youth rebellion surged up, therefore launching several movements like the hippies and socialists amongst them. Drug use and sex was fluent since everyone wanted to flee that painful view. Everything was just chaos.

But then what happens? Time passes by to the point that society has changed but you realize not all changed with it. The 80ís arrive and now the media is more restricted when it comes to information; several social problems have been resolved. The Cold War is still there (or was) but it doesnít seem as threatening as it was before. Everything is more relaxed, more synthetic, and mysteriously calm even though several political problems arise though are carefully masqueraded through the media. All of this generated an aura of cynicism which predominates everywhere, even to this day. People donít believe in anything, not even their shadows. So all those people that believed in their own causes, feel lonelier than ever, like if it were a dream, and ask themselves, where did all my ideals went to? The only thing left are your friends and the love of your friends, and the memories of that time. Many have changed, but others still dream in that time and prefer not to wake in the real world.

This state of mind is brilliantly captured by Kasdan and his co-writer Barbara Benedeck. The disillusion, the confusion, and of course, looking ahead into the future. I guess itís these types of mentalities present in the film which have made the film dated according to some, but people fail to realize that times change and that obviously ideals explored in such films like Wild in The Streets and Easy Rider are just not the same ideals we explore today. We all change, and in the end, thatís Kasdanís point: We all change but the future didnít change with us.

Cinematically, the film has great production values, with Kasdan providing us a kick-ass soundtrack of oldies, all carefully selected to fit and give an ironic meaning in various memorable scenes of the film (notably, the funeral procession accompanied with the Rolling Stones classic ďYou canít always get what you wantĒ which is a symbolic metaphor of them burying their once important ideals). It also features one of the many perfect examples of ensemble casting, with each actor contributing to a whole perfectly. If we had to pick the notables, Iíd say Glenn Close but more notably William Hurt since his performance in this film along with his previous one in Body Heat (which Kasdan also wrote and directed) precluded his taking of the reins as the leading actor of the 80ís.

In the end, if youíre one of the younger generations who donít care about or donít care to know about the past or your parentís or grandparentís past, this film is not for you because youíll never get it. If youíre an intelligent guy or gal that cares about your past and your parents or grandparents or is capable of seeing the forest through the trees and understands the ideals of those times, then this film is for you. It's quite a unique experience that itís almost a requirement to be from that generation to fully understand it but nevertheless, itís a testament from that time from people who simply wished the world changed for the better but in their own view didnít. 5-5

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1073&reviewer=235
originally posted: 10/02/04 18:41:55
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User Comments

3/09/18 FireWithFire Umteen-thousandth film,self-aggrandizing/glorifying the Boomers ,and the 6660s.FUCK OFF!!!! 1 stars
12/28/17 morris campbell i was 12 when this came out need 2 c again 3 stars
8/07/14 David Hollingsworth a cultural milestone of 80's cluelessness 5 stars
10/12/13 David H. a classic for the pre-80s anxiety 5 stars
9/06/12 Phineas My,how empty and boring life in the US would've been without the Baby Boom Generation,huh? 1 stars
6/14/09 Jeff Wilder Not bad, But Return of the Secaucus 7 covered the same territory better. 4 stars
4/08/07 mb Warm story ... Hollywood morals. 4 stars
5/05/06 dionwr Crap--second re-do of "Return of the Secaucus Seven" 2 stars
5/02/06 Ryan_A You're scaring me, Goss. 5 stars
5/01/06 William Goss Haven't seen it. 3 stars
5/01/06 David Cornelius boomer brilliance 5 stars
5/01/06 HBS-SH absinthe of malice 4 stars
6/14/04 T. Maj This is why everyone hates baby boomers 2 stars
6/12/04 Mikey This film was geat, just as relevant today as then 5 stars
1/23/04 Elena Interesting as a character study but the plot goes NOWHERE. 3 stars
9/07/03 Kyle Don't really understand why this was so popular. Some good tunes, though 3 stars
6/23/03 ttiinnaa a classic. god I love this movie 5 stars
11/23/02 the desertsage I had to go thru college with idiots like this! 1 stars
4/08/02 R.W. Welch Inconsequential but well-written "me generation" ensemble piece. Some historical interest. 3 stars
1/01/02 Andrew Carden It Was Crappy and Totally Worthless. A Waste Of My Intelligence. 1 stars
9/03/01 spaceworm Costner phenomenal as dead wrist. 2 stars
12/04/00 Sandide A stroll down a memory lane of broken glass 5 stars
10/27/99 dave the best 5 stars
3/01/99 Rachel cut my teeth on this flick, thanks to my dad. Loved it in the 80s, still love it. 5 stars
12/08/98 AnnieBee We love it here in Ann Arbor but overall? Rent it and buy the soundtrack instead. 4 stars
11/25/98 little jerry Profoundly mediocre. 1 stars
11/21/98 Bic Wood Great entertainment 5 stars
11/16/98 Jeff C. Great movie 15 years ago, rent it--not worth the price of admission 3 stars
11/06/98 grunter proto-thirtysomething; rich middle-aged white folk patting themselves on the back; eeyuck. 1 stars
10/07/98 Bluntman It's one of my mom's favorite movies. I loved it too, but not at all as much. 5 stars
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  06-Nov-1998 (R)



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