Friday, June 28, 2024

Reunion: Movie Review

A nice, easy watch but minimal comedy and intrigue.
Most recently popularized by the AppleTV+ series, The Afterparty, a high school reunion is an intriguing setting for a murder mystery. Reunion is a quick little splash in that genre; some fun characters but too slight of a movie to make a lasting impression. We start with a cop, Evan (Billy Magnussen), and Ray (Lil Rel Howery) dancing around in his underwear and getting dressed in his old high school clothes.   2024

Directed by: Chris Nelson

Screenplay by: Willie Block, Jake Emanuel

Starring: Lil Rel Howery, Billy Magnussen

On their way to the reunion party they happen to pull over Jasmine (Jamie Chung) for speeding. Jasmine is by far the most reasonable, nicest, sanest character of the bunch. Well, Evan is too, but when Jasmine makes a comment that Ray and Evan haven’t changed a bit since high school, Ray takes it as a compliment, Evan is insulted. The pair constitute an interesting angle on the “peaked in high school” cliché. Ray accomplished relatively little in high school and seems pleased with the similarly nothing he has done since. Evan knows he peaked in high school when he was the quarterback before getting injured and is purposely playing into the stereotype by becoming a cop in the same town.

The rest of the characters aren’t nearly as interesting. Matthew (Chace Crawford) was the star football player in high school and is now rich and famous and throwing the party for his former classmates. Amanda (Nina Dobrev) is a high-strung aspiring politician who didn’t like her classmates 20 years ago and likes them even less now. Her character has no reason to attend except as a red herring. Vivian (Jillian Bell) is a crazy cat lady disliked and then forgotten by her classmates. And finally, Mr. Buckley (Michael Hitchcock) their former teacher who is still a teacher at the high school. It’s not hard to guess which one of them becomes the eventual murder victim.

There are a few laughs, most courtesy of Lil Rel Howery’s Ray and his interactions with Evan and his ex-girlfriend. It is nice to have a quote-unquote-normal character in Jasmine, but none of the characters are particularly funny or interesting. Jillian Bell’s Vivian is too weird to be funny; Nina Dobrev’s Amanda is too unlikable and irrelevant to be funny or interesting, and Michael Hitchcock’s presence as Mr. Buckley is the joke, so that only works for one laugh.

Ray is really the only character playing detective, so we have one character to move the plot along, the rest of them are just distractions. Luckily it’s a fast moving story so we only need the one character to keep the plot moving forward.

The snowstorm to take out the phone towers and keep them all trapped in the one house is a good touch to keep this as a single location movie, and it’s short and fast so an easy watch. But the lack of good supporting characters weakens the comedy and intrigue that normally comes with a murder mystery.