Far-fetched premise and irritating characters sink this comedy about desperate love.
An off-putting romantic comedy about the crazy things we do for love, Ceremony stars a miscast Michael Angarano ( The Forbidden Kingdom, Kevin Smith’s upcoming Red State) as Sam, a chatterbox, antsy young man still obsessed with Zoe (Uma Thurman), an older woman with whom he shared a brief fling. Learning Zoe is about to marry Whit (Lee Pace), a pretentious director of documentaries, Sam asks his friend Marshall (Reece Thompson) to drive him to the Long Island estate where the wedding is scheduled to be held in hopes of derailing the upcoming nuptials.
Writer-director Max Winkler (son of Henry “The Fonz” Winkler) is coy about the details of Sam and Zoe’s affair, so we’re not sure if Sam is delusional or if he stands a chance of succeeding. It is also difficult to imagine a woman like Thurman ever really falling for a man-child like Angarano. Thurman plays Zoe in a manner that makes it difficult to get a read on her character. She seems certain about the man she’s about to marry, but she acts like a jealous girlfriend when she sees Sam flirting with another woman.
The contradictory elements stack up at the same time your interest in the characters dwindles. Ceremony suffers from being the kind of movie built around a far-fetched situation few people, if any, will ever actually experience: The contrived nature of the story keeps the protagonists from becoming relatable. By the time Ceremony reaches its admittedly clever finale, you’re too wrung out from Angarano’s tiresome antics and Winkler’s unconvincing dialogue to care who ends up marrying whom.
Cast: Michael Angarano, Uma Thurman, Reece Thompson, Lee Pace, Jake Johnson.
Writer-director: Max Winkler.
Producers: Emilio Diez Barroso, Darlene Caamaño Loquet, Polly Johnsen, Matt Spicer.
A Magnolia Pictures release. Running time: 90 minutes. Vulgar language, adult themes. Playing in Miami-Dade only: O Cinema.
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