Dave's Rating:

3.0

If it's too un-loud you're too old.

Sarah (Lizzy Caplan) hates marriage and commitment of any kind. When her musician boyfriend Kevin (Geoffrey Arend) proposes to her on bended knee after his band's set, not only does she publicly refuse him, the rejection winds up on YouTube. Sarah's sister Beth (Alison Brie) consoles while planning her own spiraling-out-of-control wedding to Kevin's bandmate Andrew (Martin Starr), while Sarah's rebound boyfriend Jonathan (Mark Webber) adds his own complications. Then everybody rolls with that sequence of non-directional events toward a wedding that might not even be shown on camera. Unless it doesn't happen at all. Saving dates is kind of a drag anyway, right? And in case you were still wondering, no, this isn't Bride Wars.

Relationship dramedies for twentysomethings are never only about the relationships unfolding on screen. They're also about raising flags for that generation's nascent adult worldviews and aesthetics. I'm old enough to have seen Singles and Reality Bites at the time of their release. And while, for me, neither was as relevant or as much visceral fun to watch as their less-known '90s indie counterparts, Jon Moritsugu's Mod F#%! Explosion or Gregg Araki's The Living End (only one of which had any kind of romance in it at all, and it involved crime and revenge-murders), I still took it all personally. Not just the Sub Pop songs and TAD T-shirts but also Janeane Garofalo's sarcastic slut-isms and the way Bites let Steve Zahn go on a gay-date at the end. Somebody was at least trying to speak my language and those discrete parts felt like minor league nods to my world, even if I couldn't have cared less about who Matt Dillon or Winona Ryder eventually hooked up with.

So when the camera frames Kevin and Andrew standing underneath a huge painted wall advertisement for the band No Age or artist Sarah creates spare illustrations (created for the film by comic artist Jeffrey Brown) documenting her own romantic discomfort, the film is quietly announcing itself as red meat for millennials. And it settles into that specific groove, never giving in to generic cliches that hogtie and dilute way too many films of this genre. There are no villains here, no clear-cut winners or losers, no broadly drawn scenarios or bad ex-lovers to hate while you root for the new romance, no obvious outcome besides the re-affirmation of marriage and family-building (and, really, short of downer abortion sequences and unhappy endings, that's kind of the deal you're always signing on for when you watch something like this). It tries a little harder in the opposite direction while, like its perpetually unsatisfied protagonist, pretending to shrug it all off.

And that's it. A few months in the lives of a few young people in love. Co-writer/director Michael Mohan lets his appealing, unaffected cast fill in the script's blank spaces with their own low-key, sometimes funny personalities and when there's nothing to say, nothing gets said. It's a determined lack of grand gesture and complicated setup, which means it weighs less than it might otherwise. Even the YouTube humiliation is treated as merely inconvenient, rather than its own trauma to process, another nod to life-as-it's-lived-now. And those refusals can be read as unassuming and charming or feel somewhat aimless, depending mostly on your willingness to receive it on its own terms. If it succeeds with you then it's because you know and get these people. You might be one of them yourself. If that's the case then don't be afraid to take it personally.

Share
RSS RSS
Advertisement

Dave's recent reviews

All Dave White's Movie Reviews