MICHAEL SHOWALTER'S romantic comedy The Baxter is told from the point of view of the guy who doesn't get the girl—of the guy that gets ditched at the altar when the girl realizes she's about to make a terrible mistake.
The new indie buddy-drama Ceremony is a very similar project—though where The Baxter both borrows from and mocks the conventions of romantic comedies, Ceremony swells with a self-regard that's at odds with its lack of originality. Ceremony is such a pastiche of influences, in fact, that it's impossible to discuss without referencing the many works it lifts from, both openly and subtly: Writer/director Max Winkler has clearly spent some time with the Tenenbaums; he nods to Fitzgerald and Catcher in the Rye while swinging for (and missing) the astute class observations trafficked in by Noah Baumbach.
Pushy Sam (Michael Angarano) is a lovestruck 23-year-old determined to thwart the marriage of Zoe (Uma Thurman) to a handsome, self-involved movie star (Lee Pace). With his estranged best friend Marshall (Reece Thompson) in tow, Sam heads out to Long Island for the weekend to crash the wedding and win Zoe back—a plan unbeknownst to Marshall, who thinks his friend has invited him out to reconnect. The boys hobnob awkwardly with Zoe's beautiful friends, hopelessly outclassed, at least until they take copious advantage of two great social equalizers: booze and pills.
The narrative resolution offered by Ceremony is that of a very immature person growing up a tiny bit. Unfortunately, Winkler himself lacks the maturity to tell this story convincingly. For all its callow unoriginality, though, Ceremony isn't unentertaining—in its precious indie way, it's as boilerplate as any standard-issue romantic comedy, and as mindlessly watchable.