Blogathon Review: The Big Chill (1983)

I was asked by Emma to participate in her Jeff Goldblum Blogathon.

Other reviews of films featuring Jeff can be found via links here.
Who’s Reviewing What? – The Jeff Goldblum Blogathon 2019

I have chosen the film ‘The Big Chill’, which impressed me a great deal, when I was 31 years old.

I was pretty much in the target market for this film about 30-somethings getting together for a reunion, after one of their best friends commits suicide. I was the right age, a fan of Woody Allen films, and the music on the soundtrack was right up my street too. And then there’s the cast. All at the beginnings of good careers back then, we get Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Meg Tilly, and William Hurt. Plus a couple more I won’t bother to type out.

Direction by Lawrence Kasdan is always reliable, and he co-wrote the film too.

So with no plot spoilers, I won’t just tell the whole story, or even remark too much about the changes that the friends experience after meeting up following fifteen years apart. There are the expected flirtations, a lot of angst, and some home truths declared. In between some partying, and all that great music I mentioned too. Some critics didn’t like the fact that the film had little structure. There is no real middle, and certainly no comfortable ending. Nothing is nicely tied up, and viewers are left to make up their own minds about where the various members of the group might end up. I didn’t mind that, and considered that it presumed an intelligence in the viewer.

Always a plus point, for me.

For a review with no story , I am left with just two things then. The script, and the cast. The former is great. Crackling at times, never too sentimental, and with some snappy dialogue that has your head flicking between the protagonists, wondering what they will say next. As for the cast, they were carefully chosen, and it shows. A younger, bespectacled Jeff Goldblum impresses, as does an edgy Kevin Kline. Nobody feels ‘spare’, or added for effect, and they interact like people who really have been friends for a long time. That’s not something that is always easy to pull off, in an ensemble cast like this one.

We have to remember that this was released in 1983. Films like those were something of a flavour of the month back then, and perhaps these days would have more swearing, and maybe even a couple of random killings. This film is all about the words, and the emotions they convey. Jealousy, dissatisfaction, boredom, compromise, and perceived failure. And great music, don’t forget the music.

I don’t know about you, but I have had a few weekends like that…

Here’s a trailer.

62 thoughts on “Blogathon Review: The Big Chill (1983)

  1. I think this movie requires you to be of a certain age to appreciate it. When it came out, I was a teen-ager, and I didn’t understand it. But when I watched it again in my 30s, it still missed me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean. It’s probably more about time and place, than just age. Indulgent self-examination and outright bitchiness, set against a background of baby-boomer music. That was me, in a different country!
      Best wishes, Pete.


    1. You’re too young, Sam πŸ™‚
      It was very much of its time, and rarely if ever shown on TV.
      In 2019, you might find it to be too wordy and over-indulgent, but it resonated with a generation back then.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I need to re-watch this one. I didn’t really connect with the characters (I was 13 years old when it came out).Didn’t really get the TV show “Thirtysomething” either. I think I will appreciate it more now. Nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Eric. I didn’t really enjoy ‘Thirtysomething’. Too glib, and it felt contrived, deliberate.
      This film had an edge, and reminded me of similar weekends in middle-class England at the time.
      (I was 31, and living in Wimbledon Village.)
      Old resentments, false friends, and failed ambition.
      And great music.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Late commenter.

    I liked this movie, maybe in part because I thought it β€˜felt’ like it was what was being portrayed β€”old friends, with years of differing experiences, coming together again.

    Good review, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Grew up with it ale as us playing on TV. Checked it out on cable as a young man and I was like this ain’t that great. I think it’s one of those things like time and place. I get sentimental teen films from when I was a teen and I think while it’s middle age here the same still applies. I’m not saying it’s nostalgia, I think it’s deeper than that but it just didn’t do it for me and I like a lot of Larry Kasdan. Maybe it’s time for a re-watch. Terrific cast though and interesting to see Goldblum before the persona. By the way how good is Kevin Kline?! So versatile.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The beautiful thing about life is that we all have differing opinions. I guess I’m one of the few who didn’t like this film. Perhaps, “didn’t like” is too strong, but I was disappointed because I thought it would be better. I like Jeff Goldblum as well as several other actors/actresses in the film, but I found the story just wasn’t that riveting.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved that movie at the time and you have now made me curious to watch it again. I wonder how my reaction would be this time. I also loved the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and didn’t realize that a remake existed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donald Sutherland was the star of the remake. But the original is still the best. πŸ™‚
      I also wonder how well The Big Chill has aged, but the music would be enough for me.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m Emma’s co host for the Goldblum Blogathon -Thanks for posting this, I’ll add it to the posts in August and promote it then. Love this film, and Goldblum does get some great lines. I think he almost stole the movie, but did love the scene when Tom Berenger tries (and fails) to recreate his TV Seriesby jumping into a car a wee bit more! Thanks for joining us!

    Liked by 1 person

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