Movie Review ~ The Wedding Ringer

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wedding_ringer

The Facts:

Synopsis: Two weeks shy of his wedding, a socially awkward guy enters into a charade by hiring the owner of a company that provides best men for grooms in need.

Stars: Josh Gad, Kevin Hart, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Cloris Leachman, Jenifer Lewis,  Olivia Thirlby, Mimi Rogers, Ken Howard

Director: Jeremy Garelick

Rated: R

Running Length: 101 minutes

TMMM Score: (4.5/10)

Review: I suppose it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement to say that this new Kevin Hart and Josh Gad comedy isn’t nearly as bad as it looks.  The kind of raunchy bro-fest film a critic dreads an impending screening of, I wasn’t prepared to enjoy it as much as I did.

Well, enjoy is maybe too strong of a word…let’s go with tolerate.  What we have here is a C-grade script given the B-movie treatment thanks in no small part to an A-list star.  Yes, I’m finally giving Hart (Ride Along) his due because the role was tailor made for his talents and the comedian delivers the least annoying performances of his skyrocketing career.

In an opening scene before the studio logo is even displayed (interesting choice), we meet roly poly Doug (Gad, Frozen, Thanks for Sharing) as he goes down a list of casual male acquaintances in the hunt for a best man for his nuptials to Gretchen (Cuoco-Sweeting) less than two weeks away.  Moving around in his youth left him no time to make real friends so here he finds himself about to get married with no family to speak of and without any groomsmen.

Enter Jimmy (Hart), who runs a company that provides his best man services for a price.  Doug hires Jimmy to be his stand-up guy and Jimmy organizes a group of groomsmen that, as Doug puts it, “look like the cast of The Goonies grew up and became rapists.”  From there it’s a ribald mix of frat boy humor involving peanut butter on genitals, a rowdy old vs. young game of muddy tackle football, and in the film’s most hilarious sequence, a grandmother (Cloris Leachman, The Croods) in flames.

Don’t worry if all this raises some major flags in your movie-ometer…it’s certainly no prize of a film.  The basic premise is ludicrous and the movie hammers home the kind of clichéd gender stereotypes usually reserved for in-class demonstrations illustrating how far we’ve come as a society (Men don’t cry! Women have feelings!), and a romantic subplot for Hart seems to be there only because they found an actress as short as Hart is.  Even so, I found myself engaged by Hart’s energy (he’s less screechy and ADD-ish here than ever) and entertained by the proceedings though I knew I had no real right to.

It’s important to note that the usually exasperating Gad is toned down here.  Even if the actor is subjected to one too many injuries to the face or crotch, Gad doesn’t let the role morph into one big fat joke.  I’ve never watched Cuoco-Sweeting on The Big Bang Theory so can’t speak much to her historically but let’s just say her work here screams “TV Actress On The Big Screen”.

Not great, not awful, but pleasing when it stays away from the vulgar and gross out teen boy shenanigans that form its core, The Wedding Ringer doesn’t aspire to be anything more than what it is…and that worked just fine for me.

One comment on “Movie Review ~ The Wedding Ringer

  1. ‘The Wedding Ringer’ is that curious one in a million type film. Allow me to elaborate. The first thirty minutes or so are actually surprisingly entertaining and energetic. But after the half hour mark the fun considerably starts to thin and evapourate. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

    The main and stand out stars of the film are Josh Gad and Kevin Hart. Gad plays Doug Harris who is getting married to Gretchen Palmer who is played by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting with the depth of a female role in a Michael Bay film. Harris starts ringing his “friends” in the opening title sequence, which actually gains a decent amount of laughs in the process. All of them are unavailable and the excuses get more and more lame as he asks anyone no matter how long he has known them, whether they will be his Best Man for the Wedding. It goes from bad to worse when he has no members on the Groom’s side to help him out.

    He discovers that a man by the name of Jimmy Callahan provides Best Man services for people that are short of reliable friends. However, what he does not provide is a whole group of people for the wedding. Harris eventually convinces Callahan and then Harris agrees to pay him even when the price is substantial. He calls Callahan by the alter ego of his “Best Man” Bic Mitchum. Harris has to pretend that he has known Bic for a very long period of time and for a while it works. Not because he is clever but because his parents and girlfriend are inexplicably dumb and borderline retarded. How they do not realize that this is a blatant lie is plain stupid. As several incidents occur where his parents are getting to the bottom of how Harris knows Bic, only to be interrupted at the very last second. Maybe they should get their brains scanned.

    As I only briefly mentioned above for the first thirty minutes the proceedings are funny, rude and obviously crude. But the key thing is that they work. I have to admit that in several of the early sequences I was laughing uncontrollably. The film at this point was tip toeing the line between funny and repulsive. Unfortunately for ‘The Wedding Ringer’, an immolation gag later and it strides across the line and becomes horrid and actually quite nasty and vicious. I think after this point I mildly chuckled three times and that was mainly out of pity and disappointment. This is due to the combined charm of Josh Gad, Kevin Hart and the ensemble cast who try their utmost best to keep their dignity and the film together.

    I bought Josh Gad as a lovable loser because he never thinks too highly of himself and lacks confidence, even when he succeeds in his endeavors. Think of a larger, even less sure of himself Sam Gamgee and you are halfway there. His fiancée is beautiful but she is so poorly written that she is in need of some brain cells to make her character at least feel three- dimensional. He questions whether she really does feel the same way about him and whether he is the husband that she needs him to be. Okay. Not the biggest dilemma I know. But it is a comedy and the problems are always solved in a minute anyway. I actually felt for his character even when the film was vile, so there is that I guess. Kevin Hart brings charisma and likability to his role that gives the film an illusion of having a heart and a soul. It must be said that without Josh Gad and Kevin Hart I would have walked out of the cinema long ago.

    After a while the film gets bogged down in the core relationship that is as irritating as a wasp that keeps flying around your head. Leading the film to sadly become boring, too long and painfully unfunny, as it ends up lacking the jokes that made the first act fairly enjoyable and a guilty pleasure at the least. All I remember of the second act is the relationship struggles and there is no substance present there. Leading me to ask myself the question, why should I even care? Regarding the third act I would rather have amnesia than remember that sorry affair. It ends up being the lowest common denominator of comedy. Homophobic. If you want me to like your film here is a tip Director do not use this comedy. It is relentless, aggressive and hurtful. It ruins the charm and likability of the first act. I ended up hating ‘The Wedding Ringer’ and that is the honest truth.

    After a funny and charm filled first act ‘The Wedding Ringer’ is not content to let the actors have light hearted, playful and enjoyable fun. Instead we are treated with dire relationship drama we have all seen countless times before, tired gags, hateful homophobic jokes and tones upon tones of clichés. If you are asked to be Best Man for this Wedding decline immediately and sign up anywhere else.

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