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Sundance 2012 Review: SAVE THE DATE with Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, and Alison Brie

Movie Review Sundance by Ben Pearson

 

Anyone familiar with great television comedies of the last decade should be familiar with the main cast of Save The Date. The film stars Lizzy Caplan (Party Down), Martin Starr (Party Down, Freaks and Geeks), Alison Brie (Community), Geoffrey Arend (Super Troopers), and Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), and is one of two Lizzy Caplan films at this year's Sundance to feature a wedding theme - the other being Bachelorette. Despite the fantastic cast, I'm sad to say that this film didn't resonate with me.

The biggest problem with Save The Date is that I didn't feel like it added anything new to this type of story. We've seen it hashed and rehashed tons of times before - a young woman rejects her current life in favor of a spontaneous new relationship - and even this week, I've seen two variations on it with Hello I Must Be Going and The First Time. Director Michael Mohan failed to do much to make this movie memorable, and it's truly a shame that such a talented cast is brought together for a movie that ultimately falls flat.

Caplan doesn't quite have the charm in a lead role as, say, Rashida Jones in Celeste & Jesse Forever, but she's armed with a winning smile and has a lot of natural talent, which has taken her career in some great directions. Here, though, her character is so messed up that it's hard to justify either her decisions or the love shown her by multiple male characters throughout. On an acting level, she was great. But she's the lead here, and I could never really get past her personality flaws to connect with her. Alison Brie was solid as the uptight sister too busy planning her own wedding to invest in her sister's issues, and Martin Starr plays Brie's fiance with a mixture of comedy and drama that has defined his career so far.

Thematically, there isn't much going on here beyond what's on the surface. There is a lot of family drama, both between Caplan and Brie's sister characters and between Brie and Starr's fiance relationship. There's a love triangle between Caplan, the shunned boyfriend, and the new boyfriend. But even with all of those plot points, it still seemed as if I'd seen this movie before. "Aspirations are totally overrated," one of the characters says. Perhaps the director should have aspired to make something that would stand out among the thousands of movies that have the same tone and feel as this one.

Here's the official synopsis:

Sarah finds herself caught in an intense postbreakup rebound with new infatuation Jonathan after tragically breaking the heart of rocker Kevin. Always one to give Sarah life advice is her sister Beth, who is diligently planning her upcoming wedding to apprehensive fiancé Andrew. Both sisters fumble through the bumpy emotional landscape of modern-day relationships, forced to relearn how to love and be loved. 

Filmmaker Michael Mohan returns to the Sundance Film Festival—he made his feature debut with One Too Many Mornings in NEXT in 2010. From a screenplay he wrote with famed graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown and cowriter Egan Reich, this bittersweet story about the trials of maturing love carefully balances intimate moments of pain and happiness. Delicately captured by cinematographer Elisha Christian, with standout lead performances by Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie, Save the Date charms anyone lost in his or her own state of love. 
C.R.

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