SAVE THE DATE just doesn't quite work. I didn't actively dislike the movie, but when it was all over, it just sort of sat there without leaving any kind of impression to speak of.
The main character is played by Lizzy Caplan, and right there you know you'll have something interesting. While not the greatest actress of all time by a mile, she brings a certain energy and commitment to her performances that makes even a throwaway character (like the one in CLOVERFIELD) somehow the most interesting person in the film. She's a bookstore manager who is also seemingly on the cusp of breaking out as a visual artist (her first show is coming up). She dating the lead singer of a popular regional rock band, and they're moving in together. In the background, her sister (Alison Brie) is engaged to the guitarist in the same band (Martin Starr, giving a performance quite a long way off from his work in stuff like SILICON VALLEY...I mean that in a good way, he's showing some range here.) But Caplan doubts this is the relationship for her, and things unravel early on (and somewhat spectacularly too).
Caplan and her boyfriend are left somewhat adrift. The boyfriend pines, hopes for a reunion even though he's seething with anger, etc. Caplan professes to be happy, but it's clear she isn't. And her sister is oddly resentful of Caplan choosing this time to distract from her own upcoming nuptials. The relationship of the two is very much strained. They know each other better than anyone else knows them...and they love each other but don't always like what they see in the other.
Anyway, this makes it sound like SAVE THE DATE is a pretty heavy drama. It's not. But it's also not light-footed or light-hearted enough to be a full on "rom com." It falls in between and this is the most unfortunate thing. It's not funny enough to be a memorable comedy. It doesn't dig deep enough to be a really meaningful drama. And Caplan's character is difficult to like. She hems and haws and never REALLY seems to understand that her actions have consequences on the happiness or lack thereof of the people closest to her. Brie comes off as a bit shrewish and one-dimensional, and is thus also a little difficult to like.
Yes, real life is a bit messy and sloppy. We aren't always likeable and we often aren't our best selves. But for a movie, we should at least CARE about how things turn out for many of the characters. We're asked to invest in these folks for a couple of hours, and the best films make it easy. This film makes it hard. I rooted (to some extent) for Caplan, but mostly because of how much I liked her in, oh, MASTERS OF SEX or PARTY DOWN or even TRUE BLOOD or CASTLE ROCK. It's possible that Caplan fell short as an actor in this film, but I think the writing and direction were the true issues. The directing was uninspired, at best. It didn't even do a good job really establishing a sense of place (at the end, my wife asked me, "where did that movie take place?" and I had to really think about it.) The writing was ambitious, I would say, but is having a couple "meet cute" in a bookstore really something we can accept anymore? That felt so terribly lazy.
So, while I didn't feel I had truly wasted my time watching this, and while I was reasonably diverted...you can certainly find many better rom-coms or rom-dramas out there that will serve you even better.