Writer-Director Michael Mohan’s sophomore project Save the Date features the always awkwardly and dysfunctionally lovable Lizzie Caplan playing Sarah, a young commitment-phobe woman who has to take every step of life as if it is the first and last she will ever have. At the onset of the film, her long-term relationship with her rock-singer boyfriend Kevin is hitting a new high: they’re moving in together. Who hasn’t experienced that moment of wracking relationship doubt when making those huge jumps into a grown up romance? Will she hate me for never washing dishes ever? Will he think I’m too gross if I fart in his presence? What if we get boring and hate each other? Kevin is played to adorable, sad perfection by Geoffrey Arend (who I recognize from a bit but iconic role in Super Troopers) who obviously has no issues with taking life’s big steps in one large moon-bounce-type motion, covering them all at once. When he proposes to Sarah in front of a crowd of people after his concert, she darts out of the bar without a word, and within a quick montage, has moved out and is starting over with her life.
Sarah, an artist by night and mild-mannered (Really!) bookstore clerk by day, immediately rebounds with a bookstore customer that she has known as an acquaintance for an indeterminate amount of time. His name is Jonathan, played by Mark Webber, and he is just the right unassuming, quirky guy that Sarah seems to have been searching for in Kevin. Jonathan also claims to have commitment issues, and he’s the eternal nice guy that every girl says she wants and that no ex-boyfriend can hate because he is simply just too likeable. The whirlwind, commitment-free, romance that ensues can make even the hardest of hearts warm up to memory or thought of that perfect time in a couple’s life before everything gets too real and complicated and bogged down by life.
Meanwhile, the side story is that Sarah’s sister, Beth (Alison Brie), is engaged to the drummer of the same band that Kevin is in. Beth’s fiancé, Andrew, is played by Martin Starr, who is so stealthy in his portrayal of such a down-to-earth, good-natured, and still wittily funny guy, that it’s almost shocking to realize who the actor playing this guy is. When I think Martin Starr I think of Freaks and Geeks or his self-named, heavily-bearded character from Knocked Up. Maybe this just shows that I need to catch up on my Martin Starr trivia knowledge, but that aside, he was charming and fantastic in Save the Date, if not the most likeable character of the entire film.
Beth and Andrew are the counterpoint to Sarah’s free-wheeling dating style, and it is Beth and Andrew, whose pre-nuptial relationship quarrels are clearly straining the love that the two feel for each other and that Sarah wants to avoid turning into. Lizzie Caplan, who is always great at playing the very cute tomboy who is the object of everyone’s affections, misses none of those staple beats. Her childish sensibility, her ultimate fear of the permanent and adult, is what keeps the character from being unlikable for the string of hearts she leaves behind, and instead, casts her fear as the main character itself, because that is something anyone can identify with.
The end of the movie throws a wrench into the grand master plan, or lack thereof, of Sarah’s life, and by that point in the film, we, as the audience, care and really want to see where it goes next, even if it is a little predictable. Save the Date is the perfect film to relive old loves, anticipate new ones, and rekindle flickering sparks, and is well worth checking out this upcoming holiday season.