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Save the Date

2012 | 98 min | R | 1.85:1

Save the Date


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Theatrical release date

 14 December, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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Screenshots from Save the Date Blu-ray

Save the Date Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, December 28, 2012

Expectations that “Save the Date” is going to be a jaunty affair are cut short in the opening five minutes, when it becomes clear that writer/director Michael Mohan is going to make the audience feel every last possible moment of discomfort and empty-eyed reflection. A slog attempting to resemble a romantic comedy, “Save the Date” doesn’t have the benefit of likable characters and a reinvention of relationship woe. Instead, it slumbers through routine conflicts, often in the dullest manner imaginable, refusing the lure of a snappy pace to wallow in poor communication contests that grow intolerable as Mohan makes a 90-minute run time feel like three years.

Sarah (Lizzy Caplan) is unsure about moving in with longtime boyfriend Kevin (Geoffrey Arend), though hopeful the two will make a fine pair as they take the next step in their relationship. After the first day, Sarah realizes the cohabitational life is not for her, only to be confronted with a marriage proposal during a concert by Kevin’s struggling band, Wolfbird. Ditching her boyfriend for the single life, Sarah is swiftly approached by Jonathan (Mark Webber), a kindly marine biology student who’s been nursing a crush on the bookstore manager for quite some time. Commencing a relationship, Sarah is thrilled with the romantic energy of the pairing, but when reality hits hard, she once again hunts for a way to back out of the coupling. During this time, Sarah’s sister, Beth (Alison Brie), is struggling in her relationship to Wolfbird drummer Andrew (Martin Starr), preparing a wedding that her groom-to-be doesn’t show much interest in, creating a divide between the pair as the date of their everlasting union approaches.

Mohan has gone on record describing “Save the Date” as a romantic comedy, which is a curious label considering there’s nothing romantic about these fussy, neurotic characters and their easily avoidable situations of despair, and laughs are, at best, minimal. Taking the indie film route to make a statement about commitment-phobic people for a twentysomething audience, Mohan (and two additional screenwriters) has a solid idea to exploit Sarah’s anxiety as she’s hit from all sides with male interest, but he doesn’t know what to do about the bigger picture, attempting to meld two plotlines of disgruntled unions into a single stream of discontent, with basic interests in pace and tension shooed away to make room for stillborn atmosphere and mild improvisations that often go nowhere of interest.

Although the picture has a very modern feel and a hip soundtrack to boot, Mohan appears interested in creating a Cassavetes experience of interpersonal strife, trying to generate a tidal wave of drama for universal fears. Trouble is, nothing drives the movie along, with Sarah’s concern not massaged to full strength, stopping somewhere in the whiny, self-absorbed middle. There’s plenty of concern to dissect in her faulty relationship with Kevin and the toxic way they keep weaving in and out of each other’s lives, and time spent with Jonathan seems ripe for something more substantial than the tepid new car smell of attraction Mohan summons, which soon turns into sitcom-ish confrontations as the “nice guy” is made aware of his rebound status, which he casually ignores. Even less interesting is time spent with Beth and Andrew, two supporting characters included merely to reinforce the demands (and ultimate decay) of commitment. The sibling dynamic isn’t investigated to satisfaction (their chemistry suggests a distant acquaintance, not a lifelong bond), while a few “bridezilla” moments reinforce cliche.

Performances are expectedly scattered, especially from Caplan, who’s played the damaged, unstable girl one too many times in her career. Work from Webber is strangely Eric Stolz-esque, but he has the benefit of being the only character with a life outside of the foursome, and his amiability is refreshing. “Save the Date” is reliant on its actors to sell the emotional connections the script is lacking, leaving the majority of the work to people visibly unsure how they should be playing critical scenes of disorientation. The ending is also something of a cheat, with Mohan installing a test to see if viewers have developed affinity for the characters and their unknown future. I failed.

Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Melonie Diaz
Director: Michael Mohan

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