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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Ceremony

June 20th, 2011

Ceremony - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Ceremony opened in limited release in April, earned weak reviews, and then disappeared from theaters. Was this a fair result, or does the film deserve to find a wider audience on the home market?

The Movie

The film starts with Sam and Marshall preparing for a vacation. The pair were best friends, but they had a falling out over something and haven't really seen each other for a year or so. But, this vacation is supposed to change all of that. At least that's what Sam said when he planned this trip, but he clearly has ulterior motives.

It turns out he's traveled to Long Island to get back together with Zoe, an old flame of sorts. Their relationship is clearly the most important part of his life, but the feeling isn't mutual, something that should be obvious to Sam, since she's getting married this weekend to Whit, a documentarian. But once he's secured an invitation for him and Marshall, he goes about trying to sabotage the wedding so he can win back Zoe. It's going to be an uphill battle for Sam, as he's highly obnoxious.

This brings us to the first problem with this movie. It's a romantic comedy, but one where you don't want the leading man to end up with the leading lady, because you don't think he's good enough for her. Sam spends the first 30 minutes of the movie showing time and time again that he's an irritating, self-absorbed, jackass. He's a terrible friend to Marshall, although for much of the film Marshall is little more than a doormat, so he doesn't have my full sympathies. And then when Sam and Zoe reunite, there's nothing there to suggest an old romance to begin with. Romantic comedies rely on the chemistry between the two leads, and there is none here.

There are hints of real talent coming from writer / director Max Winkler, who is making his feature debut with this film. However, he needs to find a stronger voice. Too much of the script sounds like he's trying to become the next Wes Anderson. I do look forward to seeing what he does next.

The Extras

There are a lot of extras, but most of them are really short. There's less than five minutes of deleted / extended scenes, a few minutes of outtakes, a couple short behind-the-scenes featurettes, the faux documentary by Whit Coutell. The only extra of substance is the 21-minute making of featurette. In total, there's roughly 50 minutes of extras, which isn't bad for a limited release.

The Blu-ray offers nothing more in terms of extras, while the technical presentation is good, but not great. It's not a big budget production, so you shouldn't be surprised that details are a little soft at times. The colors are good, but maybe not as vivid as one would like. Likewise, the dialogue is clear, for the most part, but the surround sound speakers have little to add to the mix.

Finally we get to the price. The Blu-ray cost $5 more, which is 31% higher than the DVD, which is right on the border between being worth it and not.

The Verdict

Ceremony tries too hard to be like other independent comedies and suffers as a result. It's not a complete waste and enough works that it is worth a rental, but that's it. If you are intent on buying, neither the DVD nor the Blu-ray are substantially better deals than the other.

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Filed under: Video Review, Ceremony