Wearing a goofy suit and a mustache that doesn't suit him, Sam Davis (Michael Angarano) is on a mission: to thwart the wedding of the woman he idolizes - and with whom he once had a soulful fling. And so the self-published twentysomething children's book writer (i.e., total slacker) grabs his mopey sidekick, Marshall (Reece Thompson), drives off from Brooklyn to the tony reaches of Long Island, and proceeds to behave as if he's in a Wes Anderson movie.
Ceremony, a twitchy exercise in smart-aleck rejoinders, martini-infused drollery, and melancholy yuks set to a patchy set of retro-pop, comes by way of Max Winkler (son of Henry), making his feature-directing debut. The offbeat comedy is not entirely devoid of charm, but its derivativeness is almost embarrassing. It's as if Rushmore's Max Fischer received a postcard from Miss Cross announcing her imminent betrothal, and so hied off to the weekend fete, which he found populated by boozing siblings, neo-boho Brits, African explorers, and depressive eccentrics whose names must certainly end in Tenenbaum and Whitman.
The object of Sam's ardor is Zoe, a chiseled giantess played by that chiseled giantess Uma Thurman. Presiding over the festivities - taking place in an expansive, expensively appointed beach house - Zoe consorts with her deadpan bridesmaids, worries about her drunken brother, and then pops her eyes wide with surprise when she spies Sam the scampy wedding crasher.
Furtive liaisons and wrinkled brows ensue, as Zoe weighs whether to take this kid seriously or stick with the narcissist filmmaker and adventurer Whit (Lee Pace) whom she's about to marry. He, at least, is her height.
"I'm too tall for you, Sam," she says, and she has a point.
Thurman does her best to look fetching and conflicted - and succeeds with the former endeavor, at least. Angarano, who has done fine work in indie drama (Snow Angels) and nutball comedy (Gentlemen Broncos, Jared Hess' Napoleon Dynamite follow-up), stirs himself into lathers of brokenheartedness and supplication.
The effort is exhausting.