Review originally published January 27, 2012 as part of Film.com's coverage of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
"Save the Date" explores the lives and loves of two very different sisters, one impulsive and uncertain, the other reliable and devoted.
Sarah (Lizzy Caplan) is deeply uncertain of her relationship with her rocker boyfriend Kevin (Geoffrey Arend) though the two are moving in together. Her sister Beth (Alison Brie) is frantically planning a wedding with her long-time boyfriend and band mate of Kevin's, Andrew (Martin Starr), and trying to get Sarah more involved in her wedding. When things blow up between Sarah and Kevin, Sarah finds herself dating a new guy, Jonathan, (Mark Webber) and Beth is suspicious of the situation. As things progress between Sarah and Jonathan, Sarah finds herself confronting her own limitations as she attempts to grow up a little.
Caplan and Brie are the centerpieces of the film, all else hangs on their thought, word and deed, and the two carry the film forward, delivering it to us in portions. Caplan is fun to watch, sexy, interesting and talented, while Brie gives us something entirely different from her roles in "Community" or "Mad Men". Martin Starr's performance is lovely as the devoted and loving fiancee, and Geoffrey Arend is entirely believable as the sad and destroyed ex-boyfriend. The one weak link is the passive and almost pathetically annoying Mark Webber, whom I wanted to like but decided half-way through that I just wanted to ignore. Just as we can't figure out why Sarah stopped liking her boyfriend, we can't tell why she started to like this one.
We are never privy to the information we want most. Why is Sarah so deeply afraid of commitment? Why is she unwilling to marry her loving boyfriend of many years? She reiterates time and again that she simply "doesn't believe in marriage" but fails to delve into her reasoning in any meaningful fashion. One of the frustrating things is that there's not enough information about the good things either. How did Beth meet and fall in love with Andrew? We're plopped into the middle of things, finding our way as we go, but without much of a back story ever revealed. Unfortunately, since we like a few of the characters, we want to know more about them and are not afforded the opportunity.
Director Michael Mohan handles the film well, but the script simply doesn't have a lot to offer and the desired outcome is slightly unclear. Are we to laugh at these people? Judge them? Root for them? The relationship between the sisters is sweet and obviously loving, but still some element is lacking from "Save the Date", whether its believability or something less easily defined.