ROMANCE: Aaron Stanford and Kristen Stewart in "The Cake Eaters." (57th & Irving Productions )
"The Cake Eaters" is a bland ensemble drama with an unremarkable script (by Jayce Bartok, who also costars) that somehow inspired actress Mary Stuart Masterson to make her feature-directing debut. The material doesn't serve her well -- and vice versa.
Set in an small town in upstate New York, the film covers several days in the lives of overlapping families: the blue-collar Kimbroughs -- widower dad Easy (a first-rate Bruce Dern), adult sons Dwight a.k.a. "Beagle" (Aaron Stanford) and Guy (Bartok) -- and the seemingly more upscale Kaminskis -- handicapped teenager Georgia ("Twilight's" Kristen Stewart), her mother, Violet (Talia Balsam), and grandma Marg (Elizabeth Ashley, at her flintiest).
Except for a budding if not terribly convincing romance between the hangdog Beagle and the luminously sad Georgia, the rest of the slender story threads involving loyalty, mortality and regret are, frankly, dullsville. Masterson's blessed with a strong cast, but she imbues the movie with so little style or energy that it simply creeps along until its series of low-key conclusions.
As for the curious title, the phrase "cake eaters," though never referenced in the film, is generally defined as "those who never have to go without." Although that hardly seems to apply here, it lends some welcome irony to this overly earnest endeavor.
'The Cake Eaters'
MPAA rating: Unrated
Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes
Playing: At Laemmle's Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-3500; Laemmle's Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 844-6500.