The Big Chill

Critics Consensus

The Big Chill captures a generation's growing ennui with a terrific cast, a handful of perceptive insights, and one of the decade's best film soundtracks.

66%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 35

77%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 22,258
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Movie Info

A re-release of the 1983 classic. The gathering of old college friends for a funeral brings out their real personalities.

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Cast

Meg Tilly
as Chloe
Don Galloway
as Richard
James Gillis
as Minister
Ken Place
as Peter The Cop
Jon Kasdan
as Harold & Sarah's Son
Ira Stiltner
as Running Dog Driver
Jake Kasdan
as Autograph Seeker
Muriel Moore
as Alex's Mother
Meg Kasdan
as Airline Hostess
Craig Dunaway
as Tight End
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Critic Reviews for The Big Chill

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (8)

Audience Reviews for The Big Chill

  • Aug 29, 2015
    Its not the greatest but the Big Chill is well acted and benefits with a great cast and can relate to anyone with the passing of a long time friend. The soundtrack is also great. The film could be seen as a great character development study but I wish they would have shown scenes of Alex through flashbacks so we could really see the friends real relationship with him especially if Kevin Costner was the actor playing him. Overtime the film develops into something happy.
    Ian I Super Reviewer
  • Oct 25, 2014
    A lifeless and depressing movie that seems more interested in its songs than in creating a relatable plot (yet even if the soundtrack is great the lyrics simply don't reflect what we see on screen), forcing us to stay in the company of a group of unlikable narcissists.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 05, 2014
    First it's "Return of the Jedi", and now it's "Return of the College Students", or rather, "Raiders of the Lost Youth". ...So, yeah, what I'm going for here is giving you an idea of how different of a project this was for Lawrence Kasdan, who I am honestly proud of. He did his job as writer of all of those fluffy blockbusters, and now he has the money to finance his own, more rich dramatic effort, which leaves me hoping that he has plenty of it left over, because it's not like he's going to make it all back. Well, that's an unfair measurement, because Kasdan's blockbuster's made a killing, and this film did do respectable business, although, in all honesty, that might just be because the guy who made it wrote the last two "Star Wars" films and "Raider of the Lost Ark" (May I be struck down if there isn't an occasion in which someone hums the "Indiana Jones" theme song in this film), and because Kasdan ended up leaving Kevin Costner's scenes on the cutting room floor. I thought "Wyatt Earp" was good, but it went to show you that Costner is more-or-less box office poison for Kasdan, although maybe it would have stood a chance of making the big bucks if it was a comedy... on purpose (Again, I thought it was good, so that was for everyone who saw it), because maybe Kasdan also made good money off of his kind of toning down this drama a smidge. I don't guess this film's intentions were ever to depress people, but it's hard enough to not get bummed out when you're in South Carolina to begin with, let alone when you're reflecting on the good ol' day upon gathering together in honor of a friend... who slit his wrists... and when you're a modern viewer reflecting on what became of the careers of a lot of the people featured in this film. Okay, maybe this film really was going for depressing, but hey, I like sad stuff, - as you can tell by my looking at the gross revenue of "Wyatt Earp" and enjoying the film - so, of course, I liked this film, like, a lot, despite its flaws. The characterization in this film is a little underdeveloped, and by that, I don't so much mean that the roles are lacking in information, as much as I mean that there is simply something in expository depth, to where few characters are drawn with deeply realized relatability and nuance to reinforce a sense of weight which is shaken enough by a lack of realization to tone. As a comedy-drama, this film is never too extreme with its humor or too weighty with its tensions, yet it still runs into some tonal inconsistencies which thin the weight through comic relief whose bite is itself relieved by the weighty atmospherics. Some of the sense of seriousness actually derives from subdued atmospherics which are recurrent through many written tonal extremes in storytelling, and therefore bring a lot of thoughtfulness to the narrative, when it doesn't slow should-be lively spots into limp spells that make the dragging all the more palpable. This film is driven by its dialogue, and such a storytelling formula could easily get messily paced, and considering that developmental shortcomings reflect a lack of meaning to a lot of the dialogue, there's a whole lot of chatter about little more than nothing throughout this almost aimless drama about not much. It ultimately comes down to natural shortcomings, because, like I just said, this film is driven by mere dialogue, carrying plenty of potential depth, yet still proving to lacking in conflict, with not even much nuance, due to the undercooking throughout all of the dragging and unrealized toning. This film is so very well-done for what it is, and what it is remains compelling, even on paper, so in the long run, the film proves to be so inspired that it comes to the brink of outstanding, but even has trouble coming to that point, for so much can go wrong in a drama this minimalist, and you are bound to catch glimpses of that within the undeniable storytelling hiccups. Nevertheless, the final product goes so surprisingly far, enough so to be, not simply very rewarding, but strong, perhaps even quite fun, at least, if you will, musically. Being barely with an original score, and reliant on mere chit-chat, this film isn't hugely celebratory of its soundtrack, but when it is, it is very celebratory, and of worthy tunes, from the '60s and '70s pop industry which does a lot to compliment the entertainment value of this film. Lawrence Kasdan, at least as director, truly drives the engagement value of this affair, partly through tasteful plays on visual and technical style which give the film a certain sense of aesthetic class, and largely through the thoughtful storytelling, which is often blanding, but predominantly glazed over tightly structured scenes, into which the subtle storytelling ought to immerse you. Kasdan's directorial storytelling is flawed, but when it's realized, for a debut directorial performance, it's surprisingly very effective, whether it be capturing a sense of high fun, or capturing a sense of heavy resonance through grace and heart which is utterly moving in its enlightening the patient to what truly matters in the subject matter. The film treads rocky ground by being minimalist and reliant on chit-chat, much of which isn't even nuanced, and yet, this study on old friends coming together in the midst of tragedy to observe their transformations and embrace pasts which will influence their future is rich with potential as thematically important, thoroughly clever, and dramatically worthwhile. You can find plenty of the value particularly captured within an undercooked, tonally unfocused and draggy script by Kasdan and Barbara Benedek that is never short on razor-sharp, often sparkling dialogue and thoroughly clever humor to liven things up amidst characterization which doesn't offer much to relate to, or much dynamicity, or even much of an alpha figure, yet still draws strong, memorable leads with plenty of humanity, even if there's only so much nuance. Really, if there's any nuance, it's found within the cast, because every single lead performer in this film delivers, with powerful dramatic layers to punctuate electric and distinguished charismas, which go bonded through utterly impeccable chemistry which is as static as lightning, and nails the sense of comradery and humanity which defines the heart of this ensemble piece as surely as anything. As I said, there's so much that is done so well in this film, but quite frankly, I find it difficult to fully describe just how effective this film is with so little to work with, because even though there's plenty going against the film, its inspiration transcends shortcomings, both natural and consequential, and ultimately craft a touching, thought-provoking and, well, fun dramedy. When the chill finally passes, some thin spots in characterization, uneven spots in tone, and cold spells in the aimlessly draggy telling of a minimalist narrative threaten to stiffen the final product shy of rewarding, but, as irony would have it, the dramedy comes closer to outstanding, on the backs of the valuably themes, excellent soundtrack, penetratingly tasteful direction, razor-sharp writing, and across-the-board powerful performances - bonded through stellar chemistry - which make Lawrence Kasdan's "The Big Chill" an unexpectedly strong study on friendship with a lot of entertainment, thematic and dramatic value. 3.25/5 - Strong
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Aug 19, 2013
    A perfect hang-out film: one of the movies you revisit just to say hi again to some old friends. A far-fetched as all hell non-ending leaves a bit of a sour taste.
    Kevin C Super Reviewer

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