Several old college buddies reunite for a wedding, setting off an awkward chain of confrontations and random hookups in Matthew Cole Weiss’ debut feature, “Standing Still.” Teeming with beautiful faces set against a ritzy Hollywood backdrop, slick ensembler plays like a younger, shallower gloss on “The Big Chill,” putting an attractive cast through some not especially original motions. Pic is easy on the eyes, and future festival play seems likely, though chances for theater play look iffy.
Opening montage recaps characters’ college days in faded video clips set to Dave Matthews Band. Pic then zips ahead four years to the day before the nuptials of Michael and Elise (Adam Garcia, Amy Adams), who are hosting a reunion of sorts at their lavishly appointed Los Angeles estate.
Among the guests are: Michael’s best man Rich (Aaron Stanford), who’s having commitment issues with girlfriend Samantha (Melissa Sagemiller); Lana (Mena Suvari), a sarcastic blonde with a history of rotten relationships; and Pockets (an endearing Jon Abrahams), so named for his amusing pack-rat tendencies, though it could also refer to his emotional baggage involving Lana and their mysterious past.
“We all have our secrets,” one character comments rather obviously, as there’s barely anyone here who isn’t hiding a painful truth, feeding an illicit lust or nursing a long-held grudge.
Screenwriters Matthew Perniciaro and Timm Sharp get their biggest dramatic clunker out of the way early on, when Michael receives a visit from his long-absent junkie dad (Xander Berkeley).
Elise turns out to be concealing a shady past of her own, as she’s reminded when Jennifer (Lauren German), her sullen ex-roommate and one-time lover, waltzes into the house with an obvious desire to rekindle their relationship.
Initially one of the film’s more offensive creations, Jennifer gets a tough, sympathetic reading from the strikingly talented German, who lets the character thaw in all kinds of rewarding ways, divesting herself of her heavy mascara not the least of them.
Functioning as comic relief — and lending the film its glamorous inside-Hollywood sheen — are motormouth talent agent Quentin (Colin Hanks); hunky cowboy actor Simon Blake (James Van Der Beek) and director Franklin Brauner (“Rules of Attraction” writer-helmer Roger Avary), who are collaborating on a “metaphysical Western”; and Donovan (Ethan Embry), the goofy/creepy star of a series of children’s exercise videos.
Surfing the crowd in Altman-lite style, pic skims the surface entertainingly but goes limp in its stabs at seriousness, especially in the final scenes, which all but drown in emotional confrontations and hasty happy endings. Garcia and Adams manage to rise above the material in their big pre-wedding climax, almost making the scene work in spite of its emotional contrivances.
Otherwise, thesping is uneven, with Suvari once again showcasing her gift for nonstop eye-rolling, while Van Der Beek slyly sends up the macho movie-star stereotypes that he has so far done a fine job of avoiding.
Pic’s parallel bachelor/bachelorette parties (the guys jet off to Vegas, the girls make do with a stripper) constitute its liveliest sequence. These young ‘uns may have their secrets, but they — as well as the movie they’re in — are far better at having shallow fun.
Tech aspects are quite polished, particularly Robert Brinkmann’s bright, cheery lensing.