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CEREMONY (director/writer: Max Winkler; cinematographer: William Rexer II; editor: Joe Landauer; music: Eric D. Johnson; cast: Michael Angarano (Sam Davis), Uma Thurman (Zoe), Reece Thompson (Marshall Schmidt), Lee Pace (Whit Coutell), Jake Johnson (Teddy), Brooke Bloom (Margaret), Rebecca Mader (Esme); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Emilio Diez Barroso/Darlene Caamaño Loquet/Polly Johnsen/Matt Spicer; Magnolia Pictures; 2010)

It’s only funny because its putrid dialogue is so unfunny that it drags flies.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Max Winkler, son of Henry, directs and writes this strident romantic comedy, that has a slight plot and two-dimensional characters. It’s only funny because its putrid dialogue is so unfunny that it drags flies.

Unsuccessful 23-year-old weedy NYC-based children’s-book author and illustrator Sam Davis (Michael Angarano) talks his former friend, the 25-year-old emotionally crippled Marshall Schmidt (Reece Thompson), to drive him to a quaint Long Island motel to rekindle their friendship, but instead the boys crash the weekend wedding party for Sam’s former girlfriend and muse Zoe (Uma Thurman). She’s to marry the suave but haughty anthropological-film maker Whit Coutell (Lee Pace), who just returned from making a film in Africa and is not bashful showing off as the white protector of the natives. The estate is owned by the orphans Zoe and her wastrel brother Ted (Jake Johnson).

It now becomes clear the trip was used by the deceitful Sam as a desperate means to stop the marriage and convince the willowy and attractive Zoe he would be a better groom. The confident Whit invites the wedding crashers to stay for the wedding ceremony, feeling his rival is a loser offering no competition. With timid lost soul Marshall and the obnoxious motormouth Sam wandering around the estate and mingling with the guests, the pair have rambling conversations with the guests, everyone twitches a lot and there’s pathos in the third act when Sam’s efforts fail and he’s taught a lesson about the value of friendship and how confusing are the matters of the heart.

At least it moves at a brisk clip, and I caught myself laughing a few times (though for the wrong reasons).

REVIEWED ON 12/15/2011 GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”