"Growing Up in Your 20s"
In CEREMONY, a children’s book writer in his 20s tries to win back a thirtysomething woman on the eve of her wedding. CEREMONY has some delightful whimsical, funny moments and a morally uplifting ending, but there’s some lewd, sensual content, lying and drunkenness that warrant extreme caution.
CEREMONY is a whimsical, indie-film delight that starts off with an illicit situation – a young man tries to convince an older woman he once courted into leaving her fiancé on the eve of her wedding and running away with him – but ultimately features positive moments of moral and ethical growth in the characters.
The story follows Sam, a children’s book writer in his 20s who is obsessed with an older woman named Zoe that he dated in the past. When he hears she’s about to get married, he talks his best friend Marshall into driving out to the seaside ceremony, not letting his friend know that his goal is to woo her back rather than merely enjoy a weekend getaway for fun.
Using a string of lies, Sam talks his way into the festivities and winds up seducing Zoe on the eve of her wedding. Ultimately, he realizes that she has chosen the right man after all. So, he makes the mature decision to bow out and become a better man and friend by being more honest about his life and problems and addressing them. Regrettably, his stated solution is through secular therapy rather than a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The debut film of writer-director Max Winkler, the son of Henry Winkler of “The Fonz” fame, CEREMONY is an entertaining, dialogue-driven comedy that speaks from the heart. Its characters are quirky yet relatable, and the movie bears a resemblance to the popular mid-career films of Woody Allen and those of Wes Anderson. The acting is strong throughout, particularly by Uma Thurman, who takes a well-written, three-dimensional role and works wonders with her part as a free spirit who’s decided to settle down yet experiences one more bout with emotional confusion before her wedding day.
While the movie initially treats her one-night stand with the male lead on her wedding weekend with whimsy, it ultimately strikes the right tone by showing the emotional damage that results, with the characters having to make hard choices to do the right thing, even if it hurts them. When it’s revealed in the closing moments that Sam has written a list of reasons Zoe should marry her fiancé, the movie earns its warmhearted conclusion.
The negative content in CEREMONY earns an extreme caution, however, so this is clearly a movie only for older viewers. Please see our CONTENT section for details.
(RoRo, B, LL, S, V, N, AA, DD, MM) Strong Romantic worldview with some moral elements, especially in the resolution of the plot problem; 14 or 15 obscenities (including five “f” words) and five strong profanities; some light slapstick comedy; implied fornication when male lead grabs female lead, who’s about to get married, and brings her into a closet where he forces a kiss on her in comedic fashion and she later comes to his bedroom and climbs into bed, claiming to do so innocently, but the two wind up kissing before the screen fades to black, and the next day the male lead tries to advance his standing with her (he has an engagement ring for her), but she reveals she confessed her infidelity to her fiancé, and he forgave her, plus some leering comments made about women at a party; four scenes of naturalistic upper male nudity; casual drinking throughout much of the first half amid the social setting of a wedding weekend, although one major supporting character is frequently drunk throughout and the two main male leads are shown drunk, during which time they make leering comments about various women; brief drug use; and, male lead tries to con and cajole his way into and out of trouble including sneaking into parties and excessively borrowing money, but ultimately is confronted with his bad behavior and forced to emotionally grow up, leading to him apologizing to the male best friend he has wronged and alienated and winding up leaving a woman he knows to have her wedding in peace, even leaving the bride a personal note spelling out the reasons she should marry her fiancé.
CEREMONY, a romantic comedy, follows Sam, a children’s book writer in his 20s who is obsessed with an older woman named Zoe that he courted in the past. Sam hears Zoe is about to get married. So, he talks his best friend Marshall into driving out to the seaside ceremony, not letting Marshall know that Sam intends to woo her back. Using a string of lies, Sam talks his way into the festivities and winds up seducing Zoe on the eve of her wedding. In the end, Sam must confront what he’s done. Will he make the right choice now?
Though CEREMONY starts off with lies and evolves into an illicit situation, it’s a whimsical, indie-film delight that ultimately features positive moments of moral and ethical growth in the characters. The characters are quirky yet relatable, and the movie bears a resemblance to the popular mid-career films of Wes Anderson and Woody Allen. There is, however, some strong foul language, drunkenness, brief drug references, and some lewd, sensual content. Because of all this, CEREMONY earns an extreme caution from MOVIEGUIDE®, your family-friendly movie review service on radio and at Movieguide.org.