Review: No saving mundane indie 'Save the Date'

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By JUSTIN LOWE, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The bonds of love and family are tested in the most mundane ways in "Save the Date," an indie relationship comedy that's short on both romance and humor.

Los Angeles bookstore manager and graphic artist Sarah (Lizzy Caplan) is nervous about moving in with her boyfriend Kevin (Geoffrey Arend), the guitarist in a two-man band with Andrew (Martin Starr), who is engaged to Sarah's sister Beth (Alison Brie).

Kevin takes their plans for cohabitation as a sign to move ahead faster, buying an engagement ring and considering an ideal time and place to present it. Although Andrew attempts to dissuade him, Kevin makes an ill-timed proposal during one of the band's live club shows, leaving Sarah speechless. With her commitment-phobia erupting full-force, she splits up with Kevin the next day and gets her own place.

Observing their breakup at the club is Jonathan (Mark Webber), a bookstore customer who quickly insinuates himself as Sarah's rebound lover. Meanwhile, Beth's wedding-planning anxiety is peaking, aggravated by Andrew's apparent indifference and Sarah's emotional unavailability. An unexpected development then pushes Sarah to reevaluate the men in her life and her relationship with Beth, perhaps glimpsing a path ahead to some version of maturity.

Director Michael Mohan and co-scripters Jeffrey Brown (a graphic artist) and Egan Reich (a playwright) take a banal situation and somehow manage to render it even more insipid. Most of these characters are so self-absorbed and have so little else going on in their lives that most people wouldn't consider spending 98 minutes in a room with them. Mohan's lensing, while capable, is strictly by the numbers, revealing little concerning individual motivation.

The hipsterish ensemble cast appears game, but runs out of yardage early in the film, essentially repeating the same beats throughout the remaining running time. Caplan and Webber are the standouts among the performers, demonstrating a degree of emotional range that's watchable enough, if not greatly involving.

"Save the Date," an IFC release, is rate R for sexual content, language and brief drug use. 98 minutes.

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Motion Picture Association of America rating definition for R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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