December 21, 2011 -- This has the look of a John Cassavetes film, but with a lot more drugs, death and color. It is about a reunion of old college buddies at a mansion at Big Sur. It turns into a giant drug-fueled party, followed by depression and death. If you are prone to depression, avoid this film. The whole thing seems to be an argument for the notion that there is no point to existence and that all human achievement is folly.
The four friends all seem to be successful, or they couldn't afford to rent this huge house at Big Sur. The only man who seems to be in trouble is the doctor, Jonathan (Rob Lowe of “The Invention of Lying”) who arrives with a medical bag full of drugs for the party. It is pretty obvious he is addicted to prescription drugs, at least. One of the four, Ron (Jeremy Piven of “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard”) is an investment banker and Richard (Thomas Jane of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) is an author whose best days are behind him. The fourth man at the reunion is Tim (Christian McKay of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”). Tim seems subdued and a bit depressed.
Following the Cassavetes formula to a point, the four friends get absolutely hammered on drugs and booze. This wipes away their inhibitions and lets their raw feelings come out. The layers of protective façades are stripped away allowing us to see the truth of their lives. Ron confesses that he has been stealing money from clients. Tim is living with a load of guilt because of an auto accident which caused the death of a friend. Richard is a cynic who is full of negativity about life. He sees everything as pointless. Johnathan spends the entire stay at Big Sur in a drug and booze-induced stupor. He calls his young son on the phone and pleads with him not to forget that he is his father. The request has a telling finality about it.
Some younger local people get into one of the parties, providing an opportunity for Richard to try to kill the creative spirit of a young aspiring writer. Richard is an English literature teacher. His classes are probably not inspiring. A couple of youngsters also latch on to Tim and get him worked up over the deadly auto accident. While death breaks up the party, it is a relief of sorts. Carla Gugino plays a cop who suspects something unusual is happening at the house, but isn't really given much to do in the story but snoop around a bit.
Despite the party atmosphere of the early part of the movie and the death later on, this is a boring movie. Neither the party, nor the death are interesting. The characters are wimpy and fairly colorless. They all have a sense of entitlement and they like to complain about how tough life has been on them, but those are not endearing qualities. They won't be missed. This film rates a C.
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