[Review] – Save The Date

22 Dec

Save the Date

Title: Save the Date
Year: 2012
Director: Michael Mohan
Writers: Egan Reich, Jeffrey Brown and Michael Mohan
Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber
MPAA Rating: R, sexual content, language and brief drug use
Runtime: 98 min
IMDb Rating: 4.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Metacritic: 54

Save the Date is my first encounter with the work of writer-director Michael Mohan (his only other feature-length effort is a 2010 flick called One Too Many Mornings), and though the film, which first screened at Sundance earlier this year, isn’t particularly great I can’t help but just giving him all the kudos in the world for being able to get so many cool people in his cast. I mean, seriously, this film is just adequate, you could say, just a totally lightweight kind of entertainment but one that’s totally watchable because of the tremendously likable cast it assembled.

You have Lizzy Caplan, the infinitely awesome actress who you should know from Party Down and who’s just poised to break out big time soon enough; then you have Alison Brie, who, like Ms. Caplan, is not only tremendously hot but also stars in a cult comedy TV series thanks to Community and to prove she has range she also appears in another one of the great shows, Mad Men; then you have Martin Starr, another Party Down alum who just so happens to have also been part of the cast of the definitive short-lived cult TV comedy: Freaks and Geeks; then you have Geoffrey Arend, who you may either know from a supporting role in (500) Days of Summer or from being the guy who somehow landed Christina Hendricks (another Mad Men connection here); finally you have Mark Webber, who was in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

So, there you have it, five seriously awesome actors who have been in truly adored movies or television series and most of whom are just bound to become much better known sooner rather than later; I guess it’s no surprise that it’s them that make Save the Date decent. It’s their undeniable charm that makes these characters so watchable, it’s them that accomplish every single good thing you can take out of this movie. Sure, it may otherwise be kind a kind of forgettable movie, but if you have 98 minutes to spare you could do much worse.

Here’s the gist of the story: Sarah, played by Ms. Caplan, breaks up with Kevin, played by Mr. Arend, the kind of totally overeager boyfriend who doesn’t really know when’s the right time or way to propose because to him it’s always been the right time. Ms. Brie plays Sarah’s sister, Beth, to whom Sarah turns to for support but doesn’t really get all that much since Beth is planning her own wedding to Andrew, Mr. Starr’s character, who just so happens to be Kevin’s bandmate. So then Sarah begins her rebound relationship with Jonathan, Mr. Webber’s character.

That’s how you get to meet these characters and that’s who they are in regards to this particular storyline. We’ll follow them as they go through some of the trials and tribulations that many people in their age group experience when dealing with relationships. It’s obviously centered on Sarah, who must learn to deal with her insecurities about commitment and examine whether she just genuinely wants to be single or if it’s more about her fearing to risk it all on love.

Like I said, it’s stuff you’ve seen done before, the fact that this is a small indie movie means that this will be a tad quirky and will have a pretty good soundtrack, but for the most part you’ve seen films like this with people like Katherine Heigl in them. Except the fact that Ms. Caplan and Ms. Brie are here makes Save the Date so much more. They play roles that are usually super bland, two sisters who are best friends even though sometimes they don’t want to be, one of whom takes on the tasks of planning her wedding and thinking about a family while the other just wants absolutely nothing to do with long-term commitment, but the way they play them adds something more to these characters that’s pretty great to watch unfold.

Ms. Brie brings some poignancy to Beth, who, like Sarah, does indeed worry about what exactly her future holds for her and just how it’s going to work out, but unlike her sister is hellbent on seeing it through come rain or come shine. And it’s tough not to relate to at least a little bit to how Ms. Caplan plays Sarah’s doubts and if you laugh during this film at all it’ll probably be because of her, not that her witty kind of deadpan humor will be that big a surprise to anyone who’s watched her work before.

Sure, the film, one could say, ultimately doesn’t really add up to much at all, it’s not all that funny nor is it deep, but I think it has some good moments in it. You get some pretty nice insight into the uncertainties of being a certain age and how different people deal with it and, because of Ms. Caplan and Ms. Brie, there’s some really good stuff going on as far as the sister stuff goes. I guess what I mean is that Save the Date is a film about moments more than it is one that hinges on its plot, a film in which moments that may not be crucial to the narrative are what stay with you because of how smartly they’re performed and just how much they say about something you can relate to.

That’s really what Save the Date has in its favor: the fact that you can relate. That happens here, in my mind, more because of the actors than because of the script. The script really follows these ordinary, merely adequate plot points and it checks them off its checklist but in the midst of all of that you have five really good actors who embed their characters with a genuine honesty that you can identify with. For that alone, if not for anything else, you should at least give this one a try.

Grade: B

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