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Time Out New York Project: Issue #807, April 7-13, 2011
Dir. Max Winkler. 2010. R. 89mins. Michael Angarano, Uma Thurman, Lee Pace.
Children’s-book author Sam Davis (Angarano) lives in what might kindly be described as Wes Andersonville: a teeth-grating land of mannered widescreen compositions and faux-witty dialogue (“What kind of dragon do I have to slay to get a drink around these parts?”). It’s the sort of place where the threadbare comic plot is likely to take a third-act detour into pathos; until two-dimensional souls are bared, we get to watch Sam do his hipster-run-rampant act through a weekend-long party at a Long Island estate. Our twitchily adorable protagonist is trying to win over fuck-buddy-cum-muse Zoe (Thurman). She’s about to marry a haughty anthropological-film maker (Pace) who amusingly poses with his subjects in United Colors of Bennetton vainglory. And Sam just ain’t having that.
Credit writer-director Max Winkler with keeping things moving at a brisk clip. Unlike last year’s Andersonesque knockoff The Extra Man, this romantic dramedy is focused as opposed to casually rambling; Ceremony passes by quickly and painlessly, its annoyances easily forgotten. On the plus side, Thurman and Angarano do work up a sweet odd-pair chemistry — he often stands on his toes to match up to her Amazonian grandeur — but you never believe you’re watching anything but two talented performers goofing around. Angarano in particular can do rapid-fire Hawks-speak with the best of them, but the duo just seems to be lazing about between more financially and emotionally lucrative gigs.—Keith Uhlich
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