- on Friday, 10 March 2017 15:37
- by Frank Wilkins
Nobody likes going to weddings. Pretentious, stodgy, and full of uncomfortable encounters with people we don’t even know – nor particularly care about, weddings are a necessary evil that often augment creepy 40-year-old Uncle Bob’s fantasies by encouraging him to place a sexy garter on the thigh of the young 15-year-old girl who caught the bouquet. Weddings are, quite simply, awkward and unpleasant.
And that’s part of Table 19’s problem. Like the bad, drunken speeches, ill-fitting bridesmaid dresses, and bland reception food that plague nearly every wedding, there’s very little fun to be had from a movie about a gaggle of misfits thrown together at the farthest table away from the bridal party. Nobody likes weddings and we certainly don’t want to see what goes on at table 19.
The film, which basically takes place in a single day, is written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz whose screenplay is credited to a story by Jay and Mark Duplass. Yes, the same Duplass brothers whose careers were built on writing quirky human comedies that are populated by awkwardly misfit characters. They are masters of the genre in this author’s opinion. Table 19’s subject matter should be a piece of cake then, right? Well, somewhere between story and script it all went wrong. All of it. There’s virtually no quirk, no humor, and the attempts at human emotion and sympathy turn the characters into miserable wretches who are off-putting and no fun to be around.
As the film opens, we meet ex-maid of honor Eloise (Anna Kendrick) attending her best friend Francie’s (Rya Meyers) wedding. She is the ex-maid of honor because she was recently dumped by her boyfriend Teddy (Wyatt Russell) who is the bride’s brother. Having initially prepared the seating chart for the wedding reception, Eloise understands the wistful significance of finding her newly assigned seat at the “random” table in the back of the ballroom accompanied by a disparate group of strangers.
Accompanying Eloise at table 19 are the bride’s childhood nanny Jo (June Squibb), a recently paroled convict named Walter (Stephen Merchant) who labels himself as a successful business man, diner owners Bina (Lisa Kudrow) and Jerry Kepp (Craig Robinson), and a teenaged virgin named Rezno (Tony Revolori).
It’s this diverse group of strangers that Blitz and company attempt to mine for yucks and zany awkwardness. Unfortunately, every one of them is so thinly drawn, and mind-numbingly dull there’s just nothing there to mine. As we would expect from a real life similar situation, these characters seem to have nothing in common, so their awkward interactions strike a familiar chord and actually make sense. However, throughout the course of the story, they never endear themselves to the audience and the lack of humor from their developing relationship is inexcusable... especially from a film attached to the Duplass brothers.
Kendrick carries whatever weight the film manages to muster, but even she isn’t strong enough to support the collapsing story. Her Eloise is pretty, sweet – though a bit of a sad sack, and deserves to be happy, but even a later revelation of why Teddy broke up with her feels a bit forced and cheap. As the romcom tropes continue to mount, Eloise and Teddy’s lack of attraction becomes more and more evident and their relationship never feels real.
Throughout the proceedings we’re spoon-fed little tidbits of background about why each character has come to a wedding where neither really wishes to be, but still, we simply don’t care. Kudrow and Robinson come closest to anything resembling emotional attraction, but even that is ruined by an adultery subplot and general meanness towards one another.
As expected, our heroes finally begin to defy their status on the loser totem pole as they come to learn that even all the cool people are just as flawed as they are. Secrets are revealed and imperfections are laid bare as each learns a thing or two from one another at table 19. But it’s still not enough to make us believe that friendships and romance always come from the most unlikely of circumstances.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, drug use, language and some brief nudity
Runtime: 87 mins
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Writer: Jeffrey Blitz
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson
Genre: Drama | Comedy | Romance
Tagline: You're invited to the wedding of the season.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I can smell the toilets from here."
Theatrical Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: March 3, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: Ex-maid of honor Eloise (Anna Kendrick) - having been relieved of her duties after being unceremoniously dumped by the best man via text - decides to hold her head up high and attend her oldest friend's wedding anyway. She finds herself seated at the 'random' table in the back of the ballroom with a disparate group of strangers, most of whom should have known to just send regrets (but not before sending something nice off the registry). As everyone's secrets are revealed, Eloise learns a thing or two from the denizens of Table 19. Friendships - and even a little romance - can happen under the most unlikely circumstances..
No details available.