Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Nate Parker, Jason Ritter, Maggie Grace, Max Greenfield, Aubrey Plaza, Max Minghella, Jane Levy
Written by: Jesse Zwick
Directed by: Jesse Zwick
MPAA Rating: R for language and drug use
Running Time: 96
Date: 08/08/2014
IMDB

About Alex (2014)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Little Chill

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

About Alex is the writing and directing debut of Jesse Zwick, the son of Oscar favorite Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond). The younger Zwick's ensemble drama is a throwback to so many other movies, notably The Big Chill and The Breakfast Club as well as the recent I Melt with You and 10 Years. It has the youthful exuberance and the youthful naïvete to assume that it's saying something new. (Although, at one point, a character opines, "this is just like one of those eighties movies!")

When Alex (Jason Ritter) attempts suicide, his six best friends from college rush to his side for a weekend of self-reflection, discussion, food, drugs, and drink. Ben (Nate Parker) is a struggling writer, Siri (Maggie Grace) may be pregnant, Josh (Max Greenfield) is cynical and mean, Sarah (Aubrey Plaza) is insecure, but loves to cook, and Isaac (Max Minghella) has made a lot of money and is now dating the young, pretty Kate (Jane Levy). Old emotions are stirred up, and new revelations are spoken. Will these friends survive the weekend?

Although About Alex contains not one fresh idea or genuine surprise, the characters actually do come to life and begin to exhibit their own amiable personalities. Actors like Ms. Plaza bring a special blend of intelligence, humor, and emotional vulnerability to their roles. Their relationships are complex and not with any easy solutions, and decisions and solutions are not easy. Yet characters continue to stumble forward, choosing hope over failure, and it's inspiring, even if you're not of this precise generation.

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