There may be no movie more qualified to illustrate the often-heard complaint that “They don’t make movies like this anymore” than The Big Chill. Lawrence Kasdan’s earnest, talky 1983 drama features adults discussing the intricacies of themselves, each other, their feelings, and life itself. Try pitching a movie like that in 2016, and the Big Chill becomes a reference to the reaction in the studio conference room.
The Intervention, the first film from writer-director Clea DuVall, attempts to not-so-subtly fill that void and mostly succeeds thanks to a banquet of likable actors.
Peter (Boardwalk Empire‘s Vincent Piazza) and Ruby (Cobie Smulders) have hit a rough patch, and the married couple’s shared group of friends have decided that it’s finally time to say something and give the two a gentle, loving push toward divorce court. But, get this. Maybe Peter and Ruby aren’t the only ones who need an intervention.
Leading the charge toward the sit-down during a weekend at a palatial Georgia estate is Annie (the always extraordinary Melanie Lynskey), who has a wedding date to set with her fiancé Matt (Jason Ritter) and a small drinking problem. Jack (Parks and Recreation‘s Ben Schwartz) is recovering from his wife’s death while in the arms of a younger woman, Lola (Alia Shawkat), who no one at the house particularly likes. DuVall (Argo) plays Jessie, a commitmentphobe who’s trying to avoid both moving in with her girlfriend, Sarah (Natasha Lyonne), and the wandering eye of Lola.
Tears are shed. Laughs are had. Some jokes land better than others. The script wobbles between heavy-handed and touching, but the result is a pleasantly nostalgic throwback that’s saved from its copy-cat tendencies by charismatic actors. It’s basically the Force Awakens of early ’80s ensemble dramedies. B