I was having dinner with one of my best friends last night and our conversation turned towards “THE BIG CHILL.” More specifically, Joe and I were talking about how much our circle of law school friends resembled the group in The Big Chill. It was funny, for about a minute until it stopped being funny. And, for me, it stopped being funny for two reasons:
First, I used to think that the movie was about “old” people. Yet if they were to do an age-appropriate re-make (as opposed to a “re-imaging” of the movies, which seems to be all the rage in Hollywood now and which I’m pretty sure means “just do it over with a prepubescent cast”) I’d just make the upper limit of the age cut-off. The second reason that the laughter fled faster than a call-girl at a Charlie Sheen party that has gone wrong – I realized which Big Chill character I was.
I’m an actor, so you would think I’d be Sam – the actor played by Tom Berenger. But you would be wrong. Sam was successful, famous even. I’m no closer to being the “Sam” then my friend Joe who is a lawyer (I know, he went to law school and actually became a lawyer, how imaginative). Truth be told, since Joe makes a very decent living, has a lovely girlfriend (who I imagine will soon be his wife) and a son, he is much more of a fully formed adult person and much closer to the part of “Sam” then I am at this stage in my life. In fact, as I am a single, out-of-work, struggling actor – I don’t resemble Sam at all. Rather, the Big Chill character I resemble most is Alex. That’s right, Alex, the screwed up guy who was living for free in his more successful friends’ guest home. You don’t remember Alex? That’s expected, Kevin Costner played him in the film – I mean no disrespect to Mr. Costner, Alex is not forgettable because Kevin’s performance was lifeless, Alex was forgettable because he WAS lifeless. Alex is the guy who kills himself before the movie begins, necessitating the funeral and the following reunion of College friends.
Alex was a troubled guy: somewhat lost and clearly unsuccessful in work, in life, and in love. Be he did have value -he had great friends and his passing was enough of an event to bring them all together after many years apart. And my recollection is that all of them were bettered by that coming together, at least in some way. It seemed that this coming together bought back a spark to their lives that had been lost or at least obscured in adult-hood. Looking at it that way, Alex was the Christ figure in the film. Through his death others were given life. I know, I know, it’s a stretch – but we were drinking wine, red wine and I was trying to put a positive spin on my “I’d be the guy who kills himself in the Big Chill” realization.
So yeah, if my friends and I were to put together a Big Chill remake this year I’d be Jesus but I’m trying hard to be Tom Berringer.
If that isn’t representative of my screwed up priorities, I don’t know what is.