Movie review: Save The Date (Jeffrey Brown)

Fans of mainstream romantic comedies and arty head-scratchers will wish that Save The Date was either funnier or weirder. But fans of indie comics will feel right at home with its understated storytelling, awkward-but-honest banter, and minutest of details. Right away, I was stoked to see a couple of titles by first-time scriptwriter Jeffrey Brown going into an IKEA bookshelf and a cat getting out of a box–inside jokes for Brown’s followers checking out his first screenplay. And there are other references that were made for subculture dwellers like me: The Blue Hearts’ garage hit from Japan, “Linda Linda,” many shots of The Smell, and a cameo by Brown that you’ll miss if you blink. The One A.M. Radio‘s soundtrack is rad, too.

But this is a big-time movie. With a story. And archetype characters like the domestic sister and the bohemian one, the good boyfriend and the bad one, the neurotic singer and steadfast drummer, and so on. It just happens to take place in a world where an indie comics-inspired doodler can fill a huge art gallery and misfits are played by actors from Mean Girls, Community, Freaks and Geeks, and True Blood. To see the world of indie comics and culture blown up to Hollywood proportions is jarring at first but not hard to get used to. The true discomfort comes from odd (yet charming) encounters and the uncomfortable (but sweet) relationships that result–as readers of Clumsy, Unlikely, and Funny Misshapen Body know and love. The scenarios will be very familiar to Brown’s fans, even if the protagonists are less misshapen and hairy and more photogenic.

Does Brown’s unpolished aesthetic work on the big screen? Probably not for everyone. But his comics are like that, too. And if you love the latter, the former is worth your time.

Save the Date hits screens at the IFC Center in New York City and the Sundance Cinemas in West Hollywood on Friday, December 14, and is available now on VOD and iTunes.