Saturday, December 15, 2012

Save the Date

At Opposites Ends of the Altar           
by Zac Ryan

Two sisters, one planning her big day and the other questioning her decision to move in with her long-term rocker boyfriend, bring little in the way of new aspects to the rom-com genre, but the likable leads and rocking soundtrack make Save the Date worth the view.

When we first meet Sarah (Lizzy Caplan), she's reluctantly packing up boxes to move in with her boyfriend, Kevin, who she's been in a relationship with for two-plus years.  The reluctance isn't because she's a commitment-phobe, but because she questions making the final leap.  She even packs the dishes, still caked with leftovers of previous meals, into the box, knowing that she can eventually come to terms with the big decision.  At the same time, she is the helping hand, offering a little bit of advice and an alternate voice for her sister Beth's nuptials.  Beth is played by the multi-talented Alison Brie.

Geoffrey Arend and Lizzy Caplan

Even though she is reluctantly moving in and moving on to the next big step in adulthood, Sarah isn't necessarily ready to settle down.  All of her insecurities and questions about her future are thrown into a tailspin when Kevin (Geoffrey Arend) proposes to her at the end of the sold-out hometown show of his band, Wolfbird.  Even though Kevin has been forewarned not to, he proposes to Sarah in the middle of the crowd and is left with egg on his face, as a bevy of camera phones captures the embarrassing moment for the whole world to see.  Now he must venture out on tour with his bandmate, who happens to be Beth's fiance, Andrew (Martin Starr).

But Sarah is the type of catch who doesn't stay single long.  She finds herself the fancy of another suitor named Jonathan (Mark Webber), who constantly flirts with Sarah as he picks up books for his thesis in marine biology.  The two hit it off, and Sarah is quick to warn him of her inability to settle into something for too long.  But the hormones of two attractive and successful people are hard to hold off.  The whirlwind rebound for Sarah grows quickly, while Beth hopes it will only lead her sister back into Kevin's arms.

Mark Webber and Lizzy Caplan

Save the Date isn't ground-breaking in story or structure, but the leads, along with the amazing supporting cast, makes it a step above the typical Hollywood romantic comedy.  These couples cover the mundane, but somehow they make it worthwhile and leave you wondering what will actually lead Sarah to settle down and truly find herself.  Caplan, who has been a standout in previous ensemble pieces, like Party Down and Bachelorette, is superb as the lead.  She is able to carry and shift seamlessly between the comedic and the dramatic.

The film is muddled by Michael Mohanl's direction, with constant shots of feet (ala Quentin Tarantino), but he allows the viewer a chance to sit back and listen to the conversations that will jump from dramatic to quick-witted.  The soundtrack is helped by a catchy indie-rock mix, instead of the plague of pop-centric montages typically found in mainstream films.

Currently the film is available in limited release or from IFC VOD.

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