Sundance Film Festival

One to watch at Sundance: Lizzy Caplan

She’s been working steadily in film and television since the early aughts, but Party Down star Lizzy Caplan first caught my eye in director Matt Reeves’ 2008 film CLOVERFIELD. She played Marlena, the girl who gets bitten by one of the weird bug aliens and then — SPOILER ALERT! — explodes. 2012 looks to be the year Caplan’s career does likewise, with a bunch of high profile starring roles including two at this month’s Sundance Film Festival.

The first is the lead in the U.S. Dramatic Competition selection SAVE THE DATE. Caplan plays Sarah, a newly single woman who dives headlong into an intense rebound relationship while her advice-spewing sister Beth prepares to get married. Beth is played by Community‘s Alison Brie, her fiancé is played by Caplan’s Party Down co-star Martin Starr, and the cast is rounded out by indie stalwarts Geoffrey Arend and Mark Webber. In his Sundance ’12 Meet the Artist interview co-writer/director Michael Mohan calls SAVE THE DATE “a romantic comedy for our generation” and hopes that “at the end of 90 minutes you feel like you’ve hung out with five of your friends.”

We’ve heard less from the folks behind Caplan’s other Sundance selection, BACHELORETTE, but based on the film’s plot description, I suspect we are looking at similar goals. The film is based on director Leslye Headland’s own play (the second, gluttonous entry in a seven play cycle on the seven deadly sins) and is about a bunch of women embittered by the thought of playing bridesmaids to their old high school nemesis, who is getting married before they have. If the synopsis sounds vaguely like BRIDESMAIDS, well, then you’ve clearly seen BRIDESMAIDS. But BACHELORETTE has the powerhouse cast to go toe-to-toe with last year’s breakout wedding comedy, including Caplan, Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, James Marsden, and Adam Scott. It’s also got a couple of powerhouse producers you might have heard of: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.

Caplan — who can currently be seen on Sundance Channel in select episodes of FREAKS AND GEEKS as Jason Segel’s rebound girlfriend — has projects on the horizon beyond Sundance as well. The most intriguing is an indie called FRANKIE GO BOOM with Charlie Hunnam and Ron Perlman, who described the film last September as “the funniest script I’ve read in 30 years.” Perlman plays a transsexual, “the ugliest broad you’ve ever seen, in the history of womanhood.” I don’t know Ron; did you see Lizzy Caplan go boom in “Cloverfield?” That wasn’t pretty.