Sunday, January 26, 2014

Nostalgia Is A Bitch: A Review of "Back in the Day" (2014)

Back in the Day (2014)

I'm in my mid-thirties, so maybe I'm supposed to be able to relate to the glut of comedy films about guys reuniting with their old high school buddies to try and relive their "glory days." Well, though I do enjoy some of them (like OLD SCHOOL), there are quite a lot that either miss the mark widely or just kind of fall flat. Actor-turned-Writer/Director Michael Rosenbaum's BACK IN THE DAY lies somewhere in between those points.
The film's official synopsis pretty much sums up the simple plot perfectly:
Sometimes in order to move forward, you have to go back. And in this raunchy comedy, Jim Owens does just that when he heads home for his high school reunion. In an attempt to relive the glory days with his boys and explore an old romance, he nearly destroys his hometown and friendships.
And, let's face it, for the most part, comedies like this are rather critic-proof. The material is either going to work for you, or it's not. And, if you're not in the target demographic, it's probably not even worth the bother. That being said, I'm not quite sure that I fit BACK IN THE DAY's target audience.

I'm not saying that the film is bad. It's certainly watchable, and there are even some parts that are damn funny. The problem is that it's just not consistent, and ultimately, it's entirely predictable. I could spot where things would end up within the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Again, this isn't necessarily a terrible thing, but it doesn't help when the majority of the material has such a been-there-done-that feel.

The crux here is that the all-to-familiar feel of the movie's set-pieces is also kind of its strong point. BACK IN THE DAY relies heavily on nostalgia, both in its plot and in its ploy to draw the viewer in. Viewers who grew up in the 1980s will likely appreciate the film's music which comes mostly from that decade and the 1990s (I have to admit, hearing Spacehog's "In The Meantime" over the opening credit crawl had me smiling). And having just gone through my 15th High School Reunion, I did find a lot of the tropes in the movie to kind of ring pretty true.

I think that Rosenbaum's heart is in the right place, and none of BACK IN THE DAY feels false or contrived; it just doesn't offer anything that other films already do better. Did I hate it? No, certainly not. Would I watch it again? Probably not any time soon.

Ultimately, BACK IN THE DAY is the type of movie you can watch on a Saturday night, crack a few beers, have some laughs, see some boobs, and then probably forget about by Sunday afternoon. I can't really recommend it, but if/when it hits Netflix, maybe you should give it a whirl and decide for yourself.

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