This movie, About Alex, is such a copy/rip-off of The Big Chill, I honestly don't know how the Screen Writers Guild allows Jesse Zwick to pass this off as an original screenplay. Obviously, he changed the characters and dialog to update to the 21st century, but he has stolen outright so many elements from The Big Chill that there should at least be an acknowledgment, "Based on the Motion Picture..." like there are on other movies that rework original ideas for modern movies (e.g. The Evil Dead). In The Big Chill, the character who commits suicide and inspires the reunion is Alex; in this version, there is also a suicidal character named Alex, though he is unsuccessful in his suicide. One of the characters in About Alex has a younger girlfriend not originally part of the group and she feels awkward around the others - there is a similar character in The Big Chill. Two of the characters hook up after many years, there is an obligatory dance sequence, a pot smoking scene, etc. All of this is straight out of The Big Chill. At one point in About Alex, Aubrey Plaza says something to the effect of "This is like one of those movies in the 80s...". I've seen this same contrivance in other movies used as some sort of way to excuse the fact that the filmmakers have borrowed heavily from an earlier work, but personally I don't believe this is a way out from plagiarism. I know people like to quote, "plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery," but is is still plagiarism. Maybe this would have been somewhat excusable if writer/director Zwick actually had something interesting to say and was able to formulate a movie that actually spoke to people. But instead, he just goes through the predictable motions of creating characters that are so redundant that they are now virtually stereotypes (the suicidal aspiring actor, the blocked writer, etc.) and having them speak a lot of trite "socially pertinent" conversation. I get the impression Zwick just made a list of all the so-called relevant issues of today's 20/30-somethings - e.g. technology, anti-depressants, lack of good pop music - and then planned his scenes accordingly. The end result is a script that is lazy and tepid and does nothing to stand out from all the other movies dealing with these same issues.
When a group of old college friends reunite over a long weekend after one of them attempts suicide, old crushes and resentments shine light on their life decisions, and ultimately push friendships and relationships to the brink.
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April 16, 2019