' ' Cinema Romantico: Ceremony

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


Seeing something as feeble as “Ceremony” merely puts into brighter focus the awesome ballsaliciousness of “Young Adult” and re-asserts the minor travesty that was Diablo Cody failing to earn an Oscar nod for writing its script (probably for the simple fact that she’s Diablo Cody and she’s now sooooooo “out”). Written and Directed by Max Winkler, "Ceremony" (2010) is sort of a wheezing wannabe of the best stuff of Noah Baumbach, the great American purveyor of obnoxious a-holes.

“Ceremony”, in fact, has parallels with Baumbach’s “Margot at the Wedding”, a film which many did not like specifically because its characters – old and young alike – were so explicitly unlikable. And this I do not dispute. Nicole Kidman’s title character was indeed unlikable. She might have even strayed into the outlying territory of monster. Did I “care” about her? Perhaps not, but I think it’s dangerous to say that we must “care” for every character that comes along in movies. Margot, to these eyes, was still fascinating, even as she kept drowning her pancakes in more narcissistic syrup. In that way she was very much akin to “Young Adult’s” Mavis Gary – trainwrecks that you do not merely slow down to observe up close, but stop the car completely so you can get out and gawk.

“Ceremony’s” Margot is Sam Davis (Michael Angarano), a self-absorbed children’s author who drags his best friend Marshall (Reece Thompson) who he hasn’t actually spoken to in over a year along for what is presumably a guys-weekend in upstate New York at the Little Mohican Inn only to immediately lead them in a wedding crashing escapade. Ah, but they’re not just crashing the wedding. Sam knows The Bride (Uma Thurman – my poor Uma, what have they done with my poor Uma?). In fact, Sam and The Bride have history – boudoir history, one might say, and Sam has swooped in to bust up the marriage and abscond with the girl. Helpfully, The Bride’s Fiance is named Whit Coutell (Lee Pace) which, of course, gives away the fact that he long ago earned one of the sacred chairs at The Douchebag Round Table. Unhelpfully, The Bride is just as self-involved as her fiancé and as Sam and, in fact, her fiancé knows about Sam and about The Bride’s other dalliances and he doesn’t much care and she doesn’t much care about his other dalliances because in a frank conversation with Sam she openly admits to being “selfish.”

That’s pretty bold and is probably the best moment in the whole movie. The problem, however, is that none of this selfish trio is as magnetic as Mavis or Margot. They don’t captivate with their a-holery. They are uninteresting a-holes and even worse is that Angarano and Uma – my poor Uma – generate as much pizzazz as an orphaned 4th of July sparkler. They don’t even look like they had history, let alone act like they had history, and it is because of this that the so-called love triangle yields no tension and because it yields no tension THAT is why we do not care.

Worst of all, though, is Max Winkler’s cowardice at the end, by which I mean he chooses at the very end to absolve Sam. Seriously? He treats Marshall worse than Jonah Hill treated McLovin'/Fogel in "Superbad" and then the movie has him say he's sorry once or twice and expects us to want to pat him on the head and say "awwwww, it's okay. We forgive you." No. We don't. We shouldn't. And neither should Marshall.


Unknown said...

Couldn't agree more!

Young Adult, Shame, Drive. If you want to know why the Oscars are a farce, watch these films and ask why not one was nominated for best film, but The Help was. Why Fassbender or Gosling or Theron weren't nominated. How about the cinematography in Drive, the direction for Shame, or the script for Young Adult. All bullshit. BULLSHIT!

PS - take a break on the Reese movies brother!

Nick Prigge said...

My discontent with "The Help" is well documented so I'm definitely on your side. And what makes me most upset about "Young Adult" just kind of falling by the wayside was that it was marketed as a comedy and then when people see it and it ISN'T a comedy they get offended and automatically don't like it. I don't understand why it can't be judged on what it IS and not what it ISN'T.

But don't get me started. Although I guess that's what I just did. Get started. Sigh.