A great aspect about a film festival such as MIFF is that it gives movie fans something different than what they normally get from a day at the cinema with one exception, a ticket price.  It would be great if the Miami International Film Festival could offer all their movies for free, but that’s just not how things work in our world.  However, that does not mean they can’t give the good folks in Miami a treat every now and then.  On Monday night, March 7th MIFF will present the romantic comedy, “Ceremony” at the Gusman and the admission will not cost you a dime.

Zoe (Uma Thurman) is about to get married to Whit (Lee Pace) in a dream wedding taking place on a beach in the Hamptons.  Not if Sam (Michael Angarano) has anything to say about it.  The two had a brief, but torrid affair during which time Sam fell in love with Zoe and believes she loves him as well, so Sam tricks his friend Marshall (Reece Thompson) into taking a trip to the Hamptons where they just happen to bump into Zoe on the weekend of the wedding.  Sam believes he can convince Zoe to be with him before she takes that walk down the aisle.

The movie is written and directed by Max Winkler, yes, the son of The Fonze, Henry Winkler.  Max has written and directed a number of shorts in the past; “Ceremony” is his feature film debut which concludes with mediocre results.  One would think growing up with a celebrity as a father, Max would not be intimidated by other celebrities, but you can’t help to notice that his big star talent does not stand out in the movie.  Was he shy about giving her directions?  The movie does not really benefit by her presence other than just being able to claim that she is in it.  You feel like Uma was left on her own on how to act in every scene she is in.  As a veteran actress, she does well, but under a more professional eye, she could have been so much better.  You almost feel like she is about to look off at the camera towards her director to know if she is doing a good job or not.

Angarano and Thompson come off much better in the movie.  The director is close to their ages in real life so he may have felt more comfortable directing them.  Angarano’s character Sam is not very likable in the movie.  We are never really rooting for him to wind up with Zoe.  This is something audiences may not like about the movie and could end up walking out hating it (at least those who do can’t ask for their money back).  Keep in mind this is also the beauty of independent filmmaking.  It would be very doubtful a studio would make this movie as written.  They would probably want to do a complete 180 on Sam to make him more appealing to movie audiences. 

The movie provides some laughs, there is not really many laugh out loud moments.  This is being called a romantic comedy, but not in the same vein as “Just Go with It” or “No Strings Attached”.  “Ceremony” has more of a quirky feel to it.  There are light situational moments to the movie and Winkler is clearly just learning his directorial style.  He does show good promise and while it is not unheard of, it’s difficult for a first time director to turn out gold right away.  It’s the first time directors who put out complete stinkers you have to be concerned with; Winkler does not fall in that category.  Perhaps that’s why Jason Reitman, the son of a celebrity himself, choose to be one of the producers on the film.  The movie starts at 7:00pm at the Gusman Theater.