January 23, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Michael Mohan’s SAVE THE DATE, which premiered this afternoon at Sundance, doesn’t earn its points from an original premise.
It concerns 2 divergent sisters, Sarah (Lizzy Caplan) and Beth (Alison Brie), but mostly Sarah. While Beth, the control-freak, is relentlessly planning her upcoming wedding to musician Andrew (Martin Starr), the commitment-phobic Sarah is about to have a messy break-up with her long-term boyfriend (and Andrew’s band-mate) Kevin (Geoffrey Arend). Sarah, an artist who doesn’t take her talent seriously and works in a bookstore, almost instantly launches into a new romance with Jonathan (Mark Webber), and those relationships are the root of the story.

It could almost be a spinoff of ABC’s Happy Endings. Inspired by the graphic art of Jeffrey Brown (he provided Sarah’s drawings for the film, and collaborated on the script with Egon Reich and Mohan), the movie has the spare familiarity of a sketch, and also the limited amount of detail.

What Save the Date does have in spades is casting. Caplan has never had the opportunity to carry a movie before, and she’s both charming and believably at loose ends. She and Brie also make convincing sisters, even if the differences between the siblings is somewhat rote (and Brie’s character is a near cousin to her Annie on Community). Starr is so good as Beth’s fiancee that one wishes there were more of him, and Arend and Webber are both able to convey shading to Sarah’s swains.
Mohan also brings some great atmosphere to the film, particularly in the middle-level success of Andrew and Kevin’s band, and the apartment interiors that play parts in the action.
When seeing a multitude of films in a compressed time at a festival like Sundance, it’s hard to avoid instant comparisons. Looked at against Celeste & Jesse Forever, the festival’s other contemporary LA romantic comedy-drama, Save the Date has less character insight and sharp dialogue, but also less plot contrivance. Both films, though, share very fine casts and the ability to move audiences and make them laugh. Save the Date probably isn’t worth clearing the calendar for, but it is worth watching.

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About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."