Much the same premise as Mary McCarthy's (or Sidney Lumet's) The Group: a circle of political idealists in their college days are reunited years later for the first funeral within the circle. But it is treated more in the form of The Return of the Secaucus Seven, a long shapeless weekend of reacquaintance and revelation, without the scope provided in The Group via flashback. The premise still need not have seemed borrowed, however, given the different generation of idealists, the different set of issues, and the different personalities involved -- need not, that is, if these had been delineated in specific. Instead they are delineated in general, much in the way that one of the characters journalistically attempts to label the theme of the piece: "Suicide. Despair. Where did our hope go? Lost hope. That's it. Lost hope." We never do find out what the characters did or thought in the Sixties, or why, or whether any of them did or thought anything different from any of the others. And the degree of their subsequent compromises and cop-outs is somewhat overstated, too, in the lines of work they have gotten into: TV star, radio call-in psychologist, People Magazine reporter, jogging-shoe chain-store owner, etc. All of this is not to suggest that the prevailing mood is somber. Quite the opposite. The vignettes directed and co-written (with Barbara Benedek) by Lawrence Kasdan tend to be as short, cute, and upturned as button noses. But here again, Mary McCarthy deals in a better brand of humor, one with more bite. Kasdan's humor is diverting enough for the duration, but it is nothing to take home with you. Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, Jobeth Williams. (1983) — Duncan Shepherd
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