Entertainment

Hilarious and heartwarming 'Table 19' skewers wedding culture and celebrates true love

Posted March 13
Updated March 14

Craig Robinson as Jerry, left, Stephen Merchant as Walter and Anna Kendrick as Eloise in “Table 19.” (Deseret Photo)

“TABLE 19” — 3½ stars — Anna Kendrick, Stephen Merchant, Lisa Kudrow, June Squibb, Craig Robinson, Tony Revolori; PG-13 (thematic elements, sexual content, drug use, language and some brief nudity); in general release

Sometimes the freaks are more fun.

“Table 19” is a wedding movie for people who hate weddings, and an underdog movie for anyone who has ever felt life's wrath in a social setting. The film’s title refers to the table in a wedding party designated for, as one character puts it, the guests who didn’t know well enough to check “regrets” on their invitation. These are the people the bride and groom felt obligated to invite, but secretly hoped wouldn’t show up.

“Table 19’s” cast of misfits is an adorable cross-section of social misery. There’s the bride’s long-forgotten nanny Jo Flanagan (June Squibb); Rezno, the awkward teen in the tuxedo (Tony Revolori); and Walter, the crazy-eyed ex-con with the accent (Stephen Merchant). Then there’s Jerry and Bina Kepp (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow, respectively), the couple having marriage problems, who were only invited because like someone in the main party, the Kepps own a diner.

Then there’s “Table 19’s” protagonist, Eloise McGarry (Anna Kendrick), who stepped down from her position as maid of honor two months earlier after getting dumped by the bride’s brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell). She’s the bride’s oldest friend, she helped her plan the wedding and has only come to decide whether she still has feelings for the man-child who broke her heart.

Interestingly, enjoyably, the actual bride and groom at the center of the event are barely involved in director Jeffrey Blitz’s film. They don’t even get any dialogue until late in the movie, which takes place during the post-nuptial dinner party. “Table 19” is focused squarely on the wedding’s own Island of Misfit Toys, and frankly, their adventures prove to be a lot more fun.

The backbone of the plot is built around learning the exact circumstances of Eloise’s breakup, but “Table 19” has a kind of chaotic ebb and flow that, while messy, lets the audience sit back and watch the misadventures unfold. Rezno is determined to hook up with an eligible female, but his attempts only prove his incompetence. Jerry and Bina’s marriage doesn’t look like it’s going to survive the day, especially once Bina’s ulterior motive for attending is revealed. Jo starts off as the token crazy old person, but reveals humbling depths, and Walter’s creepiness belies a genuine heart once he finally stops trying to convince people that he’s really a “successful businessman.”

There are moments of serious sadness and high hilarity, punctuated by moments of heartwarming joy, and the whole mess works because you grow to adore these characters, warts and all. “Table 19” is on the more vulgar end of the PG-13 spectrum, but its characters are the kind of people you love in spite of their faults, once you get past the socially backward facades.

From the worldview of “Table 19,” weddings are nothing more than the miserable pomp and circumstance of a heartbreaking industry. But beneath the cynicism and wit of Jay and Mark Duplass’s script, “Table 19” has a lot of good to say about love, especially the unconditional kind.

For some people, watching the folks at “Table 19” will be relatable. Others may just be glad that their lot isn’t quite that bad. But “Table 19’s” strangest effect may be how it leaves you looking forward to attending your next wedding.

“Table 19” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, drug use, language and some brief nudity; running time: 87 minutes.

Joshua Terry is a freelance writer and photographer who also teaches English composition for Weber State University. You can also find him on <a href='https://www.youtube.com/moviereviewsbyjosh' target='_blank'>YouTube</a>.

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