The Wedding Ringer, 2015.
Directed by Jeremy Garelick.
Starring Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Olivia Thirlby, Ken Howard, Alan Ritchson, Dan Gill, Jorge Garcia, and Cloris Leachman.
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.
In a week which saw long-running NBC show Saturday Night Live celebrate its 40th anniversary as the staple of American comedy, it seems apt that a comedy starring Kevin Hart, who auditioned for the show a few years back similarly to Jim Carrey and Zach Galifianakis, is released. Like Ride Along and Think Like A Man, The Wedding Ringer relies heavily of Hart’s usual charm and comedic talents to carry a somewhat mediocre concept through to box office glory, but with a less than stellar box office take in the US thus far (the No.1 US comedy for three weeks in a row is clutching at straws to say the least), is Hart’s bubble about to burst?
Well not exactly: the Hart effect works through his latest effort, particularly as his chemistry with co-star Josh Gad (who apparently still enjoys warm hugs) is the high point of an otherwise dull affair. What can be said for certain is that the talented comedian certainly needs to be more picky with his roles going forward, because The Wedding Ringer is a lazy, slapdash comedy that relies on familiar troupes told have been told thousand times before in many a Vince Vaughn film.
Gad stars as Doug Harris, a young man engaged to the girl of his dreams, Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), and they are making final preparations for their big day. But where she has her bridal party all set out and accounted for, Doug has no-one. No best man, no groomsman, no bromance to stand next to him on his happiest day. Some desperate phone calls later, he stumbles across Jimmy Callaghan (Hart), a local businessman with a peculiar profession that he is making a killing with: best man services for those that don’t have such things, and soon enough the two are in cahoots to keep Doug’s wedding on track.
And, with a big hug and a huge sum of money, a deal is struck and comedy follows. At least it tries to, but for its familiar beats, crazy characters, dance numbers, and mix of absurd (Granny’s on fire!) and gross-out humour (a joke about balls!), it’s hard to truly hate The Wedding Ringer, and is watchable in places. There is undeniable energy and chemistry between Hart and Gad, who share the majority of the film together as their far-fetched plans begin to unravel, while the aforementioned dance number is undoubtedly the highlight of the film, and the friendship the two develop over the course of proceedings plays out genuinely enough.
But outside of the two leads chemistry, it’s difficult to find much else to recommend in it: Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, now a $1million-an-episode superstar thanks to The Big Bang Theory, deserves some kudos for taking on a role that isn’t just a “Penny clone”, but such is the nature Gretchen (and the fact that the role isn’t as integral as it may seem) that she is left clutching a straws for any shred of charisma or charm, something she usually gets to display on a regular basis. Olivia Thirlby too, a hugely talented actress also, is marginally better served due to a couple of funny lines, but again is left shorthanded in amongst the film’s desire to be as crass and overloaded as possible.
Director Jeremy Garelick, who ironically co-wrote Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston vehicle The Break-Up, doesn’t seem to have changed his perceptions on comedy much since then, as Ringer is the kind of comedy that is almost exactly what we would have got a decade or so ago. In 2015 however, it feels both clumsy and derivative, slamming home the fact that the film tries so desperately to be riotous and side-splitting
While the comedic exploits of Hart and Gad throughout are worth sticking around for, you can’t help but feel that both actors would be better served with material that actually pushes their comedic boundaries a little instead of reverting to type. If it had, The Wedding Ringer could have made for a great little comedy; instead, it’s a tedious, sporadically amusing one that wastes the considerable talents it’s blessed with.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★/ Movie ★ ★
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