The Big Chill (1983): A monster hit that shocked a generation of former counter-culture types into realizing they had become sell-out yuppies who would eventually vote Republican and attend Tea Party rallies, Lawrence Kasdan’s reunion saga overshadowed the film it had baldly ripped off. That would be John Sayle’s The Return of the Secaucus Seven (1980), although that film was inspired by the 1976 Swiss film Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000. Where the Chill boomers were ex-hippies and the Secaucus Seven revolutionaries, Jonah’s gang took part in the May 1968 Parisian protests, a group that caught on quicker than most that their youthful ideals had faded.
Dreamcatcher (2003): It’s Stephen King’s version of The Big Chill, which naturally includes “ass-weasels,” British-accented aliens, Morgan Freeman off his tits and Donnie Walhberg as a mentally slow Scooby Doo fanboy.
The Barbarian Invasions (2003): Canadian filmmaker Denys Arcand’s The Decline of the American Empire (1986) is a kind of a mini- Big Chill, set entirely at a dinner attended by aging liberals. Seventeen years later, Arcand caught up with them again as one was dying of cancer, allowing them to take responsibility for their actions and, less charitably, judge the young, totally stupid liberals of circa 2003.
Grown Ups (2010): Four Saturday Night Live alums and—why not?—Kevin James steal the Big Chill/Secaucus Seven/Jonah setup, as well as the name of a good Mike Leigh TV movie, and, following Adam Sandler’s lead, use it as little more than a paid lazy vacation for those who really don’t need vacations or more money.
I Melt With You (2011): Miraculously worse than Grown Ups, former music video filmmaker Mark Pellington’s contribution to this list is the most eventful: Following an hour of OTT drugs and sex, our quartet—including Jeremy Piven and Rob Lowe—turn in the most overwrought pity party since ... nothing. It wins this trophy.
Little White Lies (2012): The longest on this list comes full circle in one sense at least: Like Jonah, it’s in French. If only, like the shockingly vanilla 1993 summer camp reunion thing Indian Summer, it were actually about anything other than soap-opera theatrics and, in this case, an entire subplot based on gay panic jokes.
Six Long-Running Film Franchises