45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the film that lent it's name to a generation.
THE BIG CHILL is one of those films (like AMERICAN GRAFITTI) that people of a certain age will watch and experience a sense of generational identification. The film is an enjoyable (if somewhat surface) treatment of a generation's coming to terms with the compromise and loss of its youthful ideals. The real treats of the movie are the performances of its ensemble...
Published on January 29, 1999
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Alex - The Phantom Menace
I can recall for years hearing about "The Big Chill". That it was an amazing movie and the critical acclaim did nothing but support this honor. Being a fan of cinema and a bit of a movie buff I finally decided last night to watch the movie. The only thing I knew about the flick was it was an ensemble piece, had fine actors and actresses and all of Kevin Costner's...
Published on May 10, 2011 by The Straw Man
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the film that lent it's name to a generation.,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Chill (15th Anniversary Collector's Edition) (DVD)THE BIG CHILL is one of those films (like AMERICAN GRAFITTI) that people of a certain age will watch and experience a sense of generational identification. The film is an enjoyable (if somewhat surface) treatment of a generation's coming to terms with the compromise and loss of its youthful ideals. The real treats of the movie are the performances of its ensemble cast and the soundtrack, which is filled with great Motown (and other) hits of the era. This DVD is the best video version yet of this film. The colors are warm and autumnal and the soundtrack is crisp (it practically begs to be pumped up during the songs). This is a special edition which contains deleted scenes (which, unfortunately, do not include the scenes with Kevin Costner) as well as a 55-minute documentary on the making of the film. This features current interviews with the cast and crew reflecting on their experiences making the film and what it has come to mean to them. For those who have a wide-screen TV, this film is enhanced for the 16:9 screen ratio. All in all, this is a first-rate presentation of a fine film.
52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boom Boom...Boo Hoo,
This review is from: The Big Chill (15th Anniversary Collector's Edition) (DVD)Since this film first appeared about 20 years ago, it has become a favorite of those who comprise what is referred to as the "Baby Boomer" generation" but its appeal is by no means limited to that age group. So many of its themes (e.g. nostalgia, disenchantment, sexual frustration, egocentricity) are common to all generations. As is often the case, a reunion of friends occurs because of a death, in this case Alex whose corpse is being formally dressed for burial as the film begins. (It is Kevin Costner's body but his head is concealed, with the balance of Costner's appearance lying on a cutting room floor.) Sarah and Harold Cooper (Glenn Close and Kevin Kline) serve as unofficial hostess and host. After the burial, their friends return with them to their home where accommodations are provided. Their extended celebration of both Alex and themselves begins, during which Kasdan (who also wrote the screenplay) carefully reveals the strengths and weaknesses of each central character. The Coopers seem to be the strongest, happily married and prosperous but also generous and caring. Nick (William Hurt) is a confused and self-absorbed veteran (in some respects a survivor) of the Viet Nam war. The group includes one celebrity, Sam (Tom Berenger) who stars in a television series. Karen has always been in love with Sam. Now a somewhat unhappily married woman, she struggles with her conflict of emotions (obligations to husband and children juxtaposed with her enduring attraction to Sam). Mary Kay Place is a successful attorney who yearns for parenthood but not necessarily marriage. For me, the most interesting character is Michael (Jeff Goldblum) who comes across as a smarmy, almost desperate social misfit. Although claiming to be secure as a journalist with People magazine, he is obviously desperate to be accepted, to make favorable impressions, and if nothing else, taken seriously. His vulnerabilities are almost palpable.
Kasdan and his associates have created in this film an especially effective portrayal of certain values during the period in which the action (such as it is) occurs. For example, most of the characters are almost wholly preoccupied with what they want but do not have. There is a strong element of codependency among them as they struggle to absorb and digest the reality of Alex's death. They are mutually devoted but, at the same time, several seem (to me) to be asking the same question once posed by Peggy Lee: "Is this all there is?"
Much of the appeal of this film is explained by how seamlessly Kasdan coordinates the plot with the soundtrack which continues to be a bestseller. For example, it is an especially appropriate touch that he includes the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" early on during the funeral service for Alex. Other selections on the soundtrack include "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (Marvin Gaye), "My Girl" (The Tempations), "Good Lovin'" (Rascals), "The Tracks Of My Tears" (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles), "Joy To The World" (Three Dog Night), "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" (Temptations), "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (Aretha Franklin), "I Second That Emotion" (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles), "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" (Procol Harum), and "Tell Him" (Exciters).
34 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get CHILLED Again ... But DVD is Whiter Shade of Pale,
This review is from: The Big Chill (15th Anniversary Collector's Edition) (DVD)I saw THE BIG CHILL in high school. I loved it. Strange, considering my age, but it helped me imagine my high school friends and I getting together at age 30 and having a good time. I just watched it again this weekend on DVD, and still consider it a good movie. Don't let the big budget and big names fool you. It's a small film about interesting characters. The only "action" is when Sam tries to jump into Nick's car "J.T. Lancer"-style. Mostly, it's character study. And Mr. Kasdan cast an incredible group of actors. It's a good film.
Now ... for the DVD ... I think the picture is good. For instance, this is the first time I noticed the mint-green walls of the church in the opening scene. But, the rest of the DVD pales in comparison to others on the market now. Like another reviewer said, the "Trailer" included is for SILVERADO (? ). Where's the BIG CHILL trailer ? The documentary is very well done -- lots of current interviews with cast members (Glenn Close reveals a lot). The cut scenes are interesting too. ** BUT where are the flashback scenes filmed in Atlanta of the cast in their 60's clothes ? I thought for sure we'd get to see those! Nowhere to be found ... Disappointing.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Quiet Movies Make Big Noise,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Chill (15th Anniversary Edition) [VHS] (VHS Tape)Rarely can movies today affect a viewer effectively as this film can. No fancy cameras, no splashy effects, no unneccessary noises. Just a bunch of actors who can take your breath away with a simple glance. It is, in the end, the key to reaching out past the screen: open your hearts to us, and we'll gladly return the favour.
Naked and uninhibited, these characters make no assumptions that their self-righteous college crusades were either the right ones or the only ones. Now part of the civilized world, they must come to grips with the simplest of issues: there is no other alternative to the lives we have created, and therefore, we must smile, hug and remember how important friends really are in this cold, cold world we have built around ourselves.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflections on this film, from a non-baby boomer,
This review is from: The Big Chill (15th Anniversary Collector's Edition) (DVD)Quite often, I come to read Amazon reviews & someone has already written what's in my mind about the subject at hand, and therefore, I feel no need to leave my remarks. I expected that to be the case with this film, given it's age, the overall impact it's had on society, and also the frequency with which it's shown on cable TV to this day. I was surprised to find out, after reading said reviews, that no one had articulated my thoughts, or seemed to quite capture in words what I've gleened from multiple watchings of this movie over the years. I came here to say what I've gotten from the film over the years, and hope to inspire someone who has never seen this great piece of art to watch it- no matter what their age might be. The music is perfectly chosen, the story easy to get into & follow, the scenes are logical & realistic. A top-notch cast & thoughtful dialogue makes this movie continue to stand out as the years pass by, and owning this DVD was a foregone conclusion to me. In my opinion, the scenes which were cut- including the ones with Kevin Costner- were omitted for good reason. They ultimately serve no purpose to the plot, don't add any needed detail to the movie, and in fact would've taken away from the great pace of the film. So kudos to the editing team here, for actually dismissing scenes that should've been removed- which is NOT something that can be said of many a movie!
I first saw this film as a teenager, and I loved it instantly. I could relate even then to the sense that it's amongst one's chosen friends & not usually the family one is born into that you feel most at home. I could understand even then, if not entirely comprehend, the characters' general sense of unease about their modern lives. I, perhaps a tad sadly, can now grasp their nostalgia fully about the liberal & idealistic past they shared, contrasted against their now-materialistic present. I could see how easy it is to lose oneself, and slowly watch relationships we once held so dear evaporate, in the mire of the after-college-is-over swampland. But, don't be deceived, this isn't just a shallow movie about selfish people having beautiful material things, though most of the characters are well-off. And as one of them says so succintly, "No one ever had a cushier berth than us..." Maybe that aspect puts off some viewers, to see the characters living in relative wealth & yet still able to find things to complain or feel empty about in their lives. But the universal truth that money doesn't buy happiness (or security, or lasting love, or real friendship) is nowhere more touchingly shown than in this film, in my opinion. Repeated viewings only confirm this for me as I've aged myself, gotten a bigger salary & had many beautiful material possessions come into my own life. This isn't a film to be watched only with the eyes of envy, cynicism or negativity. One must still have an open mind & a little bit of an open heart. Each time I see it again I get some new life lesson out of it or relate to something fresh that I didn't pick up on before. There's not many films I can honestly say that about.
The synopsis of the film has been well-discussed by other reviewers in terms of plot, so I will not re-hash that. What I'd prefer to focus on are the characters, who are the real reason why one should seek out this film. This could have easily become a trivial plot-driven film, in the hands of a less capable cast & crew. However, it remains doggedly character-driven, so much so that you're left feeling (in under two hours) like you've known these people your entire life. There is a warmth, realism, flawed beauty & timelessness that this movie continues to convey to me.
Harold, the kind & handsome Everyman of the film, is the archetypal "good guy", which is played to perfection by Kevin Kline. He embodies strength, fortitude, stability & graciousness- and he perhaps is the one out of all the characters here who grieves the most for his deceased friend, Alex. Sarah, played by Glenn Close, is Harold's equal in nearly every regard, both in personality & in feeling the sense of loss over Alex's demise. She is the embodiment of a woman whom many of us females long to be- a good mother, well-to-do, successful & competant in her work as a doctor, happily married to a wonderful man, possessing seemingly endless energy- and yet a woman that all of us "good girls" can relate to without jealousy. She plays the role of "the good girl" as she was born & bred to do, occasionally frustrated with the demands of society to play that part, and yet maintains almost-complete alignment with the life she's chosen, for better or worse. JoBeth Williams portrays Karen, a deeply-dissatisfied homemaker, wife & mother who has it all on the outside. Her marriage, borne of a host of insecurities, an imperfect childhood & a vague longing that no man can ever really fulfill, is woefully inadequate to her. She is somewhat spoiled, very attractive, has a serious seductive streak & is a bit self-centered. Nonetheless, she is no sociopath- just an unhappy person who never really found her own voice in life, despite having what appears to be an ideal existence. Nick is Karen's ex-boyfriend, perpetually hiding from planting any real roots in the world, a man who seems to feel everything too deeply- and thus, as a defense mechanism, reverts to pretending he feels nothing at all. He is somewhat mired in the world of drugs, temporary self-satisfaction & a restlessness that his fellow Big Chillers seem to have long ago shrugged off. I found Nick, though, to be the most relatable of all the males in the group. Perhaps this is because William Hurt portrayed him to be the one person unwilling to compromise upon realization of his own BS or make excuses for it, as the others have been apt to do (up until now, anyway). Michael is the "opportunist" of the group, the one that is notoriously known as unlikable to many audiences, portrayed to the hilt by the intelligent Jeff Goldblum. His bracingly-cold rationalizations about his big-city motivations & ambitions, while screaming that he's of the "Me Decade" in spades, are actually quite refreshing to me. Besides Nick, he is perhaps the closest to realizing what he really is, without making excuses for it or putting on a sweet veneer. My personal favorite of all the cast is Mary Kay Place's Meg, an atheist who believes that she wants to be a mother more than anything else in life, but is completely exhausted of the limited dating pool available to her. Her humor & pragmatism is most enjoyable to me & she provides a sense of real-world weariness only found by those who have been a single working woman putting up with nonsense for more time than anyone should have to. The role of Chloe has been called a ditzy girl by many a reviewer, and on the surface, perhaps that's accurate enough. But really, I think she is simply not a woman who is one to wear her heart on her sleeve, as her few remarks & glances along the way actually show a depth & maturity unheard of in a truly dumb person. Simply because she is young, that doesn't mean her character is a throwaway, though repeated viewings are what showed me these subtleties. Rounding out the cast is a slim, moustached Tom Berenger, and here he's playing a ruggedly-handsome actor named Sam who's made it big in Hollywood. Divorced, with a young daughter that he rarely sees, he is as attracted to Nick's old flame Karen as she is to him (which would be A LOT). He wonders if he is doing anything of real meaning with his life, despite the success, glory & fame that's come to him. Sam also questions his own depth often, a thought that seems to reverbate with each character, almost as if the ghost of Alex himself is whispering the same question in each of their ears: "What, of any worth, have you REALLY done in your life?"
In the end, there are no real answers to anyone's questions- the group's simply relegated to enjoying each other with the time that they have left on earth. As in real life, no one can find out a certain answer as to why we're here or if what we're really doing matters that much. And the conclusion you come to is that all one can do is be the best friend, parent, partner, worker, etc., that you can be, as moral & ethical as possible, and hope that it all works out in the end. This is a film to enjoy for the pure pleasure of seeing great actors performing a story which holds a mirror up to each of us in it's own way. Don't look to find out the meaning of existence in it's dialogue, and in keeping that realistic expectation, I think you'll find this movie alternately cathartic, funny & moving.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Big Chill" still stands out after twenty years,
This review is from: The Big Chill (15th Anniversary Collector's Edition) (DVD)Eight housemates from the University of Michigan reunite some fifteen years later for the unexpected funeral of a friend. Great 1960's soundtrack livens up weekend of grief, laughter, revelations, reminisces, sex, and some closure of unfinished business. Director Kasdan isolated the cast together in a home in South Carolina so they could develop their chemistry, which comes off as entirely believable. Unknown Kevin Costner played the deceased friend in flashbacks that were cut from the final print; that's still his "corpse" being dressed during the opening credits. Another lost scene that originally was to close the movie was a flashback with the cast in 1960's garb preparing thanksgiving dinner together in college. Included is a great retrospective with cast and crew and a few deleted scenes.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Chill,
This review is from: The Big Chill (Amazon Instant Video)Great movie!! I teach a class called Young and Middle Adult Development - on the college level, and was struggling to find something that was:
b. touched on the whole "mid-life angst" thing
c. and covered the final part of the literature, which was about coming to terms with one's mortality.
Done, done, and done! Such fabulous actors, and the soundtrack can't be beat. Still not sure if my 19-22 year old students get it, but I had a blast.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old Friends Reunited,
This review is from: The Big Chill (15th Anniversary Collector's Edition) (DVD)It's a good film, sad, funny, odd, but you get a sense you have the same circle of friends when it comes down to it. Just don't let time slip to far by when keeping up with your friends.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and in depth look at growing up,
This review is from: The Big Chill (Amazon Instant Video)Once you get out in the real world and try to follow your ideals and dreams of youth, you might see that it is harder to keep focused than you believed. Dreams change, goals change, and this movie really lets you see that and feel it with characters that you can identify with and care about.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Thrill,
This review is from: The Big Chill (15th Anniversary Collector's Edition) (DVD)Still one of my favouite movies of all time.
Great enselmble cast.
Illustrates power of frienship and love.
Music to die for.
Laugh, cry and cheer for enduring relationships that survive betrayal, distance and time.
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The Big Chill (15th Anniversary Collector's Edition) by Lawrence Kasdan (DVD - 1999)