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big chill

The Big Chill (1983)- R

When eight middle-aged citizens are brought together for their former college friend's funeral, they are sent down a path, reflecting on the formerly celebrity status of their friend Alex, who chose to take his own life after feeling like he never "measured up." During the reflection, the friend's bittersweet reunion prompts a soul-searching journey for each, leading to the resolution that, in the end, all they needed was each other.

The cast includes: Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and Jobeth Williams.

Written by: Lawrence Kasdan and Barbara Benedek. Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan.

THE BIG CHILL was nominated for the Best Picture award.

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"In a cold world, you need your friends to keep you warm! Spend some time with a few good friends."

 


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A friend's suicide prompts reflection and closeness among his college friends, now middle-aged, pondering why Alex had done such a thing, and what had happened to their own idealism, and how they wound up where they were today.

After the suicide/ funeral of their mutual friend, Alex, a group of his 7 mid-thirties friends from college, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, have a week end reunion at the Cooper's Georgia home, where they evaluate what had happened to Alex and their own ideals they had once held so dear in their youth.

Sam Weber (Tom Berenger), who had been interested in making a difference in society, had become a TV star, playing a private detective. Sarah Cooper was a medical doctor and mom, Harold Cooper (Kevin Kline) was a family man, who ran a chain of shoe stores. Meg (Mary Kay Place), who had started off being a defense attorney, is now a real estate lawyer, who wants to have a child. Michael (Jeff Goldblum), who wanted to be an investigative reporter, was now a writer for People Magazine. Nick (William Hurt), who had been a psychology major, was currently selling illegal drugs for a living. Karen Bowe (JoBeth Williams), who was a talented poet in college, was a mom, and married to an emotionally cold, controlling husband, Richard.

Plus, there is Chloe (Meg Tilly), who was in her early 20's, and was Alex's last girl friend that he was living with in the house he was rennovating, on a big property owned by the Coopers. She was the one who found Alex, dead in the bathtub, after cutting his wrists. Alex was brilliant and the best of them, who could've been an excellent research scientist, but he made another choice and never achieved much in his life, as he wandered from job to job.

Some of these characters also explore possibilities, opportunities that they had missed, relationships that didn't happen, and other regrets. This serious exploration is peppered with humorous situations, witty dialogue, and great music from the sixties, which flows through the length of the film, offering great background ambiance and symbolism to the montages and various parts of the story.

The opening montage, with the song, "I heard it Through the Grapevine" as background music, shows each college friend of Alex's finding out and reacting to the news about his death, inter spliced with scenes of the mortician dressing Alex's body in his funeral clothes.

The cast does a terrific job, both in their individual performances and their ensemble work. This film enhanced many of their careers. They got into the spirit of the movie, by spending a lot of time together during the filming of the movie, talking and getting to know each other. The quality of their acting and ensemble efforts shows the great result of this closeness. The direction, by Lawrence Kasdan, is inspiring, leading the storyline along in a great balance of drama and comedy.

A favorite mix of humor and drama is the scene where Meg tells Sara in the kitchen, the problems she has had with dating men, and how hard it is to find a decent guy. Her monologue is quite hilarious, but sad at the same time. Favorite scenes include: the unique dancing kitchen clean-up scene, various conversations between cast members, time-elapse montage of breakfast after their first night together, jumping in the car scene, football montage, and last twenty minutes of the film.

The over seventeen crowd will enjoy this movie, but people in their 30's, 40's and 50's will really relate to the movie's musings of what happens to our youthful idealism, and why people make certain choices in their lives. It is an interesting study of human nature.

Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan. Written by: Lawrence Kasdan and Barbara Benedek. Executive Producers: Marsha Nasatir and Lawrence Kasdan.

If you enjoyed THE BIG CHILL, you may like FOUR FRIEND, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, PARENTHOOD, BACK TO THE FUTURE, and/or PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED.