Standing Still

In theory, movies about people in their mid-twenties trapped between the carefree days of college and more serious issues of commitment would seem like a good idea.  Filmmakers can explore the intense emotional conflict as these people turn from young adults into adults, forced to look at things in a different manner.  In practice, movies about this topic tend to be shallow and annoying (like What Boys Like).  Standing Still is another good (er, bad) example.  Instead of looking at things with any sort of depth or intelligence, director Matthew Cole Weiss and screenwriters Matthew Perniciaro and Timm Sharp create a cacophonous movie filled with lowbrow humor.

Standing Still is the type of movie where everybody has some sort of emotional problem that conveniently resolves itself by the time the movie is over.  The tipping point for everybody is the wedding of Elise (Amy Adams, Junebug, The Wedding Date) and Michael (Adam Garcia, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Kangaroo Jack).  The wedding will take place at their house, which allows for a maximum of histrionics.  The day before the wedding, Michael's estranged father Jonathan (Xander Berkeley, North Country, Storytelling) shows up on his doorstep.  Jonathan claims to be clean now, and wants to be back in Jack's life.  For the most part, this story sits on the backburner until the third act of the film.

The movie should focus on Rich (Aaron Stanford, The Hills Have Eyes, Winter Solstice) and Samantha (Melissa Sagemiller, The Clearing, Sorority Boys).  The two have been dating for as long as Elise and Michael have, and seem to be at a crossroads in their relationship.  Samantha is throwing strong hints about taking the next step in their relationship.  Although the story never mentions why, it's a fairly easy guess.  Rich feels that love is not enough for marriage.  There are serious issues here in their relationship, and for the most part, the only examination deals with Stanford sulking.

Instead, Weiss focuses on some of the other, less interesting characters that up the stupid antics.  Pockets (Jon Abrahams, Prime, House of Wax) and Lana (Mena Suvari, Rumor Has It..., Domino) used to date, but had an acrimonious break-up.  They haven't seen each other in a while.  Lana has a reputation for being pretty, uh, free with herself, and her latest notch of shame is Donovan (Ethan Embry, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Timeline), a video star who specializes in motivating fat children.  Donovan manages to invite himself to the wedding.  Quentin (Colin Hanks, King Kong, Orange County) is an arrogant agent who cannot seem to get any women.  This contrasts with Simon (James Van Der Beek, Rules of Attraction, Texas Rangers) is an arrogant actor who gets lots of women.

The filmmakers mistake crude humor for character development.  While their characters act like people in their mid-twenties, they do not do a single thing to engender any sort of sympathy or empathy from the viewer.  People watching will simply not care what happens to these people.  They are idiots.  Why throw in anything of emotional substance when strippers and lesbians will suffice?  There is a lot of conflict, then everything seems to wrap itself up far too quickly and neatly.  It is a bit unfortunate, since Adams and Stanford have proven themselves good actors.  Sagemiller seems to need that one good role to take her career to the next level, but Samantha is not it.  It may be interesting to note that Weiss, Perniciaro, and Sharp are all under the age of thirty.  Maybe they need a few more years under their belt before they can make a movie like this.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated R for sexuality, nudity, language, and some drug use.

Back to Movies