From the opening sequence of cutesy doodles set to Wilco’s “Heavy Metal Drummer,” it’s clear that Save the Date is a certain genre of rom com: the indie rom-com dramedy. Think 500 Days of Summer, Juno, Garden State, or anything Michael Cera has been in. I usually love these movies, but I didn’t love Save the Date. Despite its indie soundtrack, likeable stars, and an adorable cat, Save the Date is never anything more than mediocre.
Most of this is because the characters rarely reveal themselves as anything more than character types. Lizzy Caplan stars as Sarah, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who doesn’t believe in marriage but is torn between two Nice Guys who love her. Sarah turns to her Bridezilla sister Beth (Alison Brie) for support, but Beth is preoccupied with planning her wedding to her slacker fiancé Andrew (Martin Starr). With two Nice Guys vying for her affection and the wedding planning putting stress on her relationship with Beth, Sarah has to choose which relationships are worth saving.
Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie have both proven themselves to be talented comedic and dramatic actresses, but here they’re shoved into boxes and rendered unfunny. Caplan comes off as a second-rate Zooey Deschanel, when she’s proven herself to be so much more in movies like Bachelorette, Cloverfield and Mean Girls. Brie is never allowed to be anything more than a Bridezilla, though she’s proven her comedy chops on Community and her dramatic abilities on Mad Men.
The movie is best when it focuses on the relationship between Sarah and Beth, which, to give the filmmakers credit, is framed as the most important relationship in the film — more important than either of Sarah’s two romances. There are a few genuinely touching scenes between the sisters, but too much of their screen time is devoted to petty bickering about the benefits of marriage versus being single, or whether wedding invitations and color schemes are as important as Beth thinks they are.
There is a good story somewhere in Save the Date — a story about sisterly love and inconvenient romance, a story about how you may not know anyone as well as you think you do. Unfortunately, despite a few redeeming factors (The soundtrack is good! The cat is cute!), that story is buried under cardboard characters and indie rom-com clichés. Caplan and Brie deserve a much better movie than this.
Images from facebook.com/savethedatemovie