[Screen It]


(1983) (Glenn Close, Tom Berenger) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy Minor Moderate None Minor
Minor None None None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
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Heavy Mild Mild Mild Minor

Drama: A group of college friends, who haven't seen each other for years, come together for the funeral of a former friend and try to figure out why he took his life while also recognizing how much they and their hopes and ideals have changed.
Years after graduating from the University of Michigan, a group of friends come together for the funeral of another friend, Alex (an unseen KEVIN COSTNER). Arriving at the home of Harold (KEVIN KLINE) and Sarah Cooper (GLENN CLOSE), a business man and doctor respectively, the old friends reacquaint themselves and try to figure out why Alex committed suicide.

Among them is Sam (TOM BERENGER), an actor who plays private eye J.T. Lancer on TV, Michael (JEFF GOLDBLUM), who writes gossip articles for People Magazine and want to open a club, and Meg (MARY KAY PLACE), a single lawyer who wants to get pregnant.

Then there's Karen (JoBETH WILLIAMS), whose marriage to her husband, Richard (DON GALLOWAY), is strained at best, and Nick (WILLIAM HURT) a Vietnam vet and former radio psychologist who now spends his time doing drugs and wandering the country.

After meeting Alex's carefree and enigmatic girlfriend, Chloe (MEG TILLY), and returning from the funeral, the friends spend time at Harold and Sarah's country home while trying to come to grips with Alex's suicide and how they and their lofty collegiate ideals have changed over time.

Older teens who've heard about it may want to, but it's questionable how attractive this 15-year- old movie will be to most kids.
The reason was not available, but we'd guess it was for profanity, sexually related material, and drug use.
  • GLENN CLOSE plays a caring and emotional woman who had an affair with the deceased years earlier and then arranges for her husband to impregnate their friend (as something of a payback). She also smokes pot and apparently does cocaine.
  • KEVIN KLINE plays that husband, a successful businessman and thoughtful individual who agrees to sleep with Meg. He also smokes pot in one scene.
  • TOM BERENGER plays a robust TV actor who, like the others, is upset and confused by their friend's death. He also has an affair with Karen.
  • WILLIAM HURT plays a somewhat bitter man who does drugs.
  • JEFF GOLDBLUM plays a People magazine columnist who makes amorous moves on many of the women and also does drugs.
  • JOBETH WILLIAMS plays a woman whose marriage is falling apart and consequently has an affair with Sam (and briefly smokes pot).
  • MARY KAY PLACE plays a lawyer who wants one her friends to impregnate her (she also smokes pot).
  • MEG TILLY plays the carefree and enigmatic girlfriend of the deceased who, for the most part, doesn't seem too disturbed by his suicide.


    OUR TAKE: 8 out of 10
    Rereleased onto the big screen on its fifteenth anniversary for no apparent reason other than hoping to capitalize on the financial success of other recent rereleases, but also simply because it's a great film (and a blast to see the cast looking so young), "The Big Chill" plays as well today as it did back at the beginning of the "me" generation.

    Epitomizing what had truly become the "big chill" regarding social movements and group causes from the seventies that evaporated, for the most part, in the self-absorbed eighties, the film still carries great resonance regarding how people and their ideals change over time.

    Recipient of three Oscar nominations in 1984 (for Best Picture, Screenplay, and Supporting Actress for Glenn Close), this is simply one of the finest examples of dramatic ensemble acting in the history of the cinema.

    Director Lawrence Kasdan, fresh off the success of his first film, "Body Heat" (after writing the scripts for "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark"), and working from a script he cowrote with novice screenwriter Barbara Benedek, delivers a superb picture featuring a great cast of well-defined and differentiated characters that remain fresh, interesting, and entertainingly compelling even after all the intervening years.

    Of course he wasn't hurting for a great bunch of performers with whom to work, although many were relative unknowns at the time. While William Hurt ("Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Broadcast News") was probably the most famous at the time (for his roles in "Body Heat" and "Altered States") and JoBeth Williams had just come off the success of "Poltergeist," the rest were talented "wannabes" awaiting their cinematic spring when they'd bloom into success.

    From Glenn Close, who had just done "The World According to Garp" (and later went to "The Natural," "Fatal Attraction" and many films), Tom Berenger (who later went on to star in "Platoon" and the "Major League" movies), and Jeff Goldblum ("The Fly," the "Jurassic Park" movies) to Kevin Kline ("In & Out," "A Fish Called Wanda"), the film -- which was a big financial success for its time and genre -- will forever be known as the picture that launched the prolific careers of those stars.

    Even so, the most famous actor to come out of the bunch, Kevin Costner ("Dances With Wolves," "Bull Durham"), was essentially all but edited out of the film's final cut (he supplies the brief glimpses of the corpse during the opening credits). The stuff of great Hollywood folklore, Kasdan reportedly felt so bad about those cuts that he cast Costner in his big Western film, "Silverado" and the rest is cinema history.

    Every performer is completely believable in his or her role, and Kasdan has made sure to supply all of them not only with richly drawn characterizations, but also superbly written dialogue. Unlike what's often the case with large ensemble casts, no one here suffers from flimsy character development or being relegated with little onscreen time.

    While some may complain that the film is too dialogue heavy (and thus prove that they're missing its point and purpose), Kasdan makes sure that such scenes are surrounded by more lively, if occasionally superfluous moments that lighten the mood and provide for some fun, intervening events.

    One of the first to successfully incorporate period songs throughout the production (which then set off a frenzy of similarly scored, copycat soundtracks), Kasdan perfectly balances the feel of 70's collegiate idealism with 80's grounded reality while also delivering some superbly constructed montage sequences of the friends in various part of the film. The best may just be the first that occurs. The opening sequence, where the characters learn of the suicide, and then arrive at the funeral, all to the tune of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," is superbly constructed.

    Lacing the script with smart and witty dialogue, subtle references (in the fun bat scene, Harold hums the theme from "Raiders" for which Kasdan wrote the screenplay), and those not so subtle (while unpacking her bags, Karen tosses her diaphragm case onto the bed where it lands on a magazine featuring Sam -- her eventual adulterous lover -- on the cover), the film never fails to be interesting or entertaining.

    Never too heavy or preachy, and featuring a great cast and equally terrific performances, "The Big Chill" may look just a tad dated, but it perfectly unfolds and delivers as compelling and timely a message today as it did when it was first released. We give "The Big Chill" an 8 out of 10.

    Although it's questionable how many of today's teens will want to see this fifteen-year-old picture, here's quick rundown on its content. Many of the characters do drugs (pot, coke, etc...) and we briefly see their "stoned" or hyped up reactions from doing that. Profanity is heavy with 8 "f" words and an assortment of other words and phrases.

    A great deal of generalized, non-explicit sexual talk occurs, and toward the end we see some activity with movement and brief sounds (including one involving a spouse-approved affair). Brief, nonsexual nudity also briefly occurs.

    Beyond the thematic elements of suicide (we don't see the act), and of growing up and losing one's hope and idealism, the rest of the categories have little in the way of major objectionable material. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness, we suggest you take a closer look at what's been listed.

  • We see that Sam has had many little bottles of liquor while on his plane trip.
  • Nick puts out a joint and then takes some pills from a bottle containing a wide variety of unidentifiable pills.
  • Meg smokes a joint while riding with Nick and later appears to be stoned. Even later, she comments, "Dope makes me stupid. I no longer know how to handle myself stoned."
  • The friends and others have drinks at the wake.
  • Sarah makes a comment about not believing that Chloe is "stoned" at her boyfriend's funeral.
  • Some of the friends have drinks.
  • Nick snorts some cocaine.
  • The group has wine with dinner.
  • Karen smokes a joint and passes it to Harold who takes a hit. Sarah then asks for it and also takes a hit.
  • We see Michael rolling a joint, and he then takes a Quaalude from Nick and downs it with wine.
  • As Sarah hyperactively moves around their bed, Harold comments, "This is a really charming side of you. Remind me to get some more cocaine in the morning."
  • Sam, Michael and Meg drink beer while watching a football game.
  • The group has wine and beer with another meal.
  • We see the group sitting around talking with liquor by them (and what looks like pot on the table, especially when Michael picks up and sucks on an extinguished joint).
  • We briefly see the stitched up slice wounds in a suicide victim's wrist.
  • Although nothing is really seen, we do see Michael zipping up after peeing outdoors.
  • Some may see Chloe's casual reaction to her boyfriend's death as having some of both, as might others about Michael who immediately puts the moves on her.
  • Harold gives everyone insider stock info about the pending sale of his company.
  • Some may see Meg's wanting one of the men to father her child (with no commitment from them) as having some of both.
  • We learn that Sarah had an affair with Alex several years ago. Later, in return, she allows Harold to sleep with Meg for the above reason.
  • Karen and Sam have an affair.
  • Some viewers may not like Meg briefly stating that she's an atheist.
  • None.
  • Sam, as J.T. Lancer on his TV show, carries a gun during the opening credits.
  • Flamethrower: Briefly seen in an old sci-fi movie on TV.
  • Phrases: "Laid" (sexual), "Jerk off" (masturbate), "Scum," "Scum of the Earth," "Bitch" (a general reference), "Shut up," "What the hell?," "Idiot," "Pissed off," "Screwed up," "Piss" and "Schmuck."
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 8 "f" words (1 used sexually), 14 "s" words, 5 hells, 3 asses (all used with "hole"), 3 damns, 2 craps, and 2 uses each of "Oh God," "God" and "Jesus" and 1 use each of "G-damn," "Christ," "Oh Christ" and "Oh Jesus" as exclamations.
  • We see Chloe in her underwear as well as in a high cut leotard that's stretched to the limit as she stretches (spread legs, part of her bare butt, some cleavage, etc...).
  • We see the friends unpacking their belongings and see Karen throw down a diaphragm case and Michael (in another room) throws down several wrapped condoms.
  • We see Sarah sitting nude and crying in the shower and briefly see her bare breasts (and the side of her bare butt).
  • Seeing Meg in his wife's robe, Harold comments that he likes "to jump her" (his wife) when he sees her wearing it.
  • We learn that Meg, a single woman, wants to be a mother by one of her old friends (knowing that she's ovulating, she states, "The ground is ready. I just need someone to plant the seed"). She tries Nick first, but he states that he can't due to an injury sustained in Vietnam. She then tries Sam but he politely turns down her offer. When she says that she still loves him, he jokingly asks, "So, you want to f*ck?"
  • Sam mentions that he had a "dirty dream" about Karen (but doesn't describe it).
  • We learn that Sarah and Alex had an affair years earlier and Harold comments "they only slept together a few times."
  • Chloe suddenly blurts out, "Alex and I made love the night before he died. It was fantastic" and Nick adds, "He went out with a bang and not a whimper."
  • Sarah talks to Meg about her wanting to get pregnant and says, "You know, it doesn't happen every time." Meg replies, "That's not what they told us in high school."
  • Michael comments that rationalizations are more important than sex. When challenged on that notion, he asks "Have you ever gone a week without rationalization?"
  • When a comment is made about feet growing as one gets older, Michael chimes in, "I wish everything did."
  • Harold comments, "How much sex, fun and friendship can one man take?"
  • Karen comments that she knows Richard will always be faithful for "fear of herpes."
  • Nick, Harold and Sam deliver the following exchange: "I always thought masturbation was the ultimate act of self-absorption." "Do you jerk off?" "Does a bear have fleas?" "Does a bear sh*t in the woods?" "Does a bear jerk off?" "I sh*t in the woods, but I can't jerk off."
  • Chloe tells Nick that she called him years ago for advice (on his radio talk show), presumably about masturbating because she comments that she wondered if she was a pervert, and he stated that whatever she was doing was okay as long as she did her homework.
  • Karen indirectly wonders if Meg had sex with Sam, and when Nick mentions that he loves his new tennis shoes and is going to sleep with them on, Meg comments to Karen, "That doesn't mean he's going to have sex with them."
  • Michael approaches Meg about her pregnancy desires and states, "You know we can do it. We've done it" (referring to a brief college encounter).
  • Sam tells Karen, "There's nothing I'd rather do right now than make love to you."
  • Talking about what motivates people, Michael says, "I believe everyone does everything to get laid."
  • We see Karen and Sam making out and working on the other's pants while standing outside. We then later see Karen on top of Sam having sex with some movement and sounds (but no nudity).
  • With Sarah's consent, Harold and Meg have sex and we see them in bed nude (just their upper halves and his arms block her breasts) along with some slow movement.
  • About the above, Michael comments to Sarah, "I'm picking up vibrations...I'm certain there's sex going on around here."
  • Meg smokes several times and in one scene, gives her cigarette to Sarah who takes a drag.
  • Karen and Richard are having marital problems, and we hear that Sam and his wife have split up and that their daughter has a "new" father.
  • We see the dead man's family members at his funeral.
  • We learn that Sarah had an affair.
  • Suicide and what drives people to do that.
  • What happens to one's idealism as they get older (and out of college and into the "real" world).
  • A character has committed suicide (by slashing his wrists) before the movie begins.
  • Meg briefly mentions having had a client who beat up and raped people.
  • A man breaks through a glass door on a show playing on the TV.

  • Reviewed November 4, 1998

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