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Standing Still

The parents of the Big Chill are out of town and their twenty-something inertia-filled children decide to throw a house party. Sadly, add one more to the ashes of St. Elmo's Fire--Standing Still has nothing that will surprise and/or shock fans of this genre.


Standing Still has all the elements most coming of age ensemble pieces have: a group of both issue-saturated male and female friends who share a penchant for smoking cigarettes, slurping down hard liquor, sleeping together and philosophizing endlessly about life--and then smoking more cigarettes. It is four years since college and Los Angeles couple Michael (Adam Garcia) and Elise (Amy Adams) are getting married in the morning so they invite all their dysfunctional friends over, whereupon shenanigans ensue. An albeit colorful yet cliché cast of characters help to round off this generation Y version of the Big Chill on peyote (sans the great soundtrack). As the night goes on, boobies, vomiting, lesbians, drugs, fights, hookers all make their choreographed appearances. But they do nothing more for the film than to secure an R rating.


There are a lot of talented and familiar faces in this handsome cast of young actors (Oscar-nominated Amy Adams from Junebug, Aaron Stanford from X-Men) and all do their best to work within a limited script filled with inane subplots and vacuous character structure. Colin Hanks has fun as Quentin, a jerky Ari Gold Hollywood agent type who likes to drink and sleep with under age girls. Lauren German's one-line deliveries and Jessica Biel looks will make audiences yearn for more. James Van Der Beek's portrayal as Simon, the drunken actor, is fun to watch despite its similarities to his role in Rules of Attraction. Still, one of the film's biggest surprises is Ethan Embry (Timeline) as Donovan, a DVD pushing children's self-help guru who dances around the screen in a bizarre elf costume thereby stealing the show regardless of his out of place presence.


Two things an indie director faces: low budget and limited resources, which can often push a filmmaker to take more risks therefore inventing new ways to build on old ideas. Unfortunately, writer/director Matthew Cole Weiss accomplishes neither and is unable to shake the similarities to Garden State, Rules of Attraction, Swingers, Tadpole and other films of this kind. The direction in the film is scattered and may have benefited from a bit more fine tuning in the editing room. Even more, a lot of memorable films utilize the same location throughout, and in Standing Still's case, it's Michael's opulent home. But the location here, be it the soft lighting or echoing sound, doesn't fit the characters. Instead, it evokes images of that all-too-familiar setting of a late night cable TV movie with techno jazz playing in the background and a guy named Hans who walks in and asks to fix the TV.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 1/2 stars.