Stellar cast elevates a formulaic coming-of-age script
Elise (Amy Adams) and Michael (elongated Ralph Macchio clone Adam Garcia) are a comfortable Los Angeles on the verge of marriage. They've been together forever and their lives seem perfect, but there are things they aren't telling each other. Michael's secrets involve his estranged father (Xander Berkeley), while Elise's have to do with her surly former roommate Jennifer (Lauren German). The days leading up to the wedding bring together their collective friends, including ex-pat Pockets (Jon Abrahams), smarmy agent Quentin (Colin Hanks), slightly unbalanced Lana (Mena Suvari), egomaniacal actor Simon (James Van Der Beek) and bizarrely deranged children's empowerment entertainer Donovan (Ethan Embry), as well as Rich (Aaron Stanford) and Samantha (Melissa Sagemiller), a long-standing couple thinking of moving to the next step as well.
Very little in Sharp (best known for his hilariously awkward role on "Undeclared") and Perniciaro's script is likely to seem fresh, as "Standing Still" rarely deviates from its basic framework -- the characters are all on the cusp of young adulthood and maturity and their every line of dialogue seems to cling to that unique moment where a lone gray hair can be a calamity and a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas for a three-hour bachelor party seems like a splendid idea, consequences be darned.
"Standing Still" may not be original, but it's honest and the writers have a way of making every cliche seem like it's familiar because that's the way people actually interact. It helps that this is a deep and versatile cast to die for. Many of the performers have spent years typecast as high school or college students and the movie is transitional for them as well.
Adams, a recent Oscar nominee, is the obvious standout -- something about the way light catches her eyes is magical -- winning sympathy even if the flat-but-pretty Garcia leaves her with little to work with. I also continue to enjoy Van Der Beek's willingness to play obnoxiously against type -- it turns out that as a big-headed hero, he's boring, but as a big-headed ass, he's a funny guy. The ever-reliable Berkeley provides mature grounding to his few scenes.