Review:  ‘About Alex’ aims for ‘Big Chill,’ ends up a little lukewarm

Nate Parker, Max Greenfield, Aubrey Plaza and Jason Ritter in Jesse Zwick's "About Alex."
(Jami Saunders)

It’s another long, woodsy weekend of the soul on display in the indie drama-comedy “About Alex,” a stab at “The Big Chill” for millennials that brings six drifted-apart college chums together after one of them (a struggling actor played by Jason Ritter) attempts suicide.

But whereas Lawrence Kasdan’s 1983 touchstone deftly combined baby boomer angst, laughs and melodrama, writer-director Jesse Zwick — son of writer-director Ed Zwick, who co-created the “Big Chill"-inspired “thirtysomething” — never finds firm situational footing for his characters’ insecurities, jokey bitterness and emotional recriminations.

He’s got a solid cast, including Max Greenfield, Jane Levy and Max Minghella, but only Nate Parker’s brooding writer and Aubrey Plaza’s flinty pre-law student give off a spark of unpredictability. Everyone else falls prey to Jesse Zwick’s regrettably determinist scenario, where you know secrets will get revealed, some will be humbled, a key relationship will crumble and someone will get punched.

The references to anti-anxiety medication, social media and a depressed economy may give the amiably slick “About Alex” the sheen of something pointed and up-to-date, but it amounts to lip service when the movie stalls in a limbo of half-realized characters and superficial weightiness.



“About Alex”

MPAA rating: R for language and drug use.

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.

Playing: At Sundance Sunset, Los Angeles.