ABOUT ALEX (Jesse Zwick). 98 minutes. Opens Friday (August 8). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
I'm not sure whether it takes massive balls or a complete lack of self-awareness to remake The Big Chill and not have Kevin Costner's character kill himself.
Lawrence Kasdan's 1983 boomer classic explored the failure of 60s liberalism as former radicals face middle age and the slow erosion of their principles; the suicide of Costner's Alex forces everyone else to confront their failures.
Jesse Zwick's About Alex lets Alex (Jason Ritter) survive his wrist-slashing. Conceptually that's intriguing for maybe three minutes. But writer/director Zwick (son of Ed, whose production company made this) is just doodling in the margins of better material. His characters also throw Jeff Goldblum's name around and talk about "those 80s movies where everyone gets together," just so you know he's seen Kasdan's film.
But Zwick didn't learn a thing from it. About Alex is packed full of young actors I really like - Ritter, Aubrey Plaza, Nate Parker, Max Greenfield, Jane Levy, Maggie Grace and Max Minghella - but it gives them nothing to do besides snark at one another, eat pasta and look awkward whenever Ritter walks into the room.
Ritter and Levy manage to wrench some emotion out of the material, but the effort is obvious.