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The Big Chill

Released in 1983, The Big Chill is an ensemble movie that launched the careers of Jeff Goldblum, Tom Bergener, Glenn Close and William Hurt. It's a great example of a comedy that doesn't need obvious jokes to be funny but can do it in a subtle and delicate manner.

The film centres around seven friends who reunite at a funeral: Sam Weber (Tom Bergener), Sarah Cooper (Glenn Close), Michael Gold (Jeff Goldblum), Nick Carlton (William Hurt), Harold Cooper (Kevin Kline), Meg Jones (Mary Kay Place) and Karen Bowens (JobBeth Williams). They decide to spend the weekend together along with their late friend Alex's girlfriend Chloe (Meg Tilly) and Karen's husband Richard (Don Galloway) in Sarah and Harold's house. Whilst this may seem an odd situation for a comedy, there are some great lines like 'I always thought masturbation was the ultimate act of self-absorption'. You get a lot of R-rated comedies (or rated 15, over where I live in the UK) that simply just add vulgar stuff in an attempt to be 'clever'. This isn't one. This is a comedy that doesn't realise it's being clever. The way it handles nine characters in total is genius; none of them feel shoehorned in and all have a moment to shine, from Richard's awkward take on Alex's death to Sam's hilarious attempt to leap into a car and land as he does in his popular TV show J.T. Lancer (of course, he fails).

I said this is an ensemble movie but honestly, it feels like The Jeff Goldblum Movie because he completely steals the show as Michael Gold. He is absolutely brilliant and has some of the best lines, including 'That's the great thing about the outdoors, it's one giant toilet.' and (about the reception after the funeral) 'Amazing tradition. They throw a great party for you on the one day they know you can't come.' This character could be the voice of many memes; when watching this film it's easy to see why he was later cast as Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park. Tom Bergener is funny too but never manages to beat the awesomeness of Goldblum.

The problem with this film is that it feels like it would be better suited to a sitcom than a movie. Each event in the film feels somewhat episodic and the pace can occasionally feel slow. There's no overarching narrative; it's literally just seven friends spending a weekend together after a funeral. You could easily see it as a six episode comedy series. In fact, i wouldn't be surprised if it's ever remade as one.

I also didn't feel like I knew enough about Chloe throughout the film. She does feel as though she has a reason to be there; she was Alex's girlfriend, after all. It's just that I'm not entirely sure what her personality is supposed to be. Chloe is a bit bland compared to the colourful characters around her; you kind of wonder why Alex was with her. A lot of it could be to do with the context as I'm sure if this comedy was written today, she would be a more rounded character with clearer personality quirks. In fact, it would probably focus around Chloe and her university friends reuniting over her boyfriend's death. After all, female-led movies are starting to emerge as of recent.

Overall, The Big Chill is a great ensemble comedy featuring a hilarious Jeff Goldblum as Michael Gold. Sometimes it does suffer from pacing issues that make it feel as though it would work better as a sitcom and Chloe doesn't feel as well-developed as the other characters but overall The Big Chill is a very funny comedy film that's well worth a watch.