The Wedding Ringer
2015, R, 101 min. Directed by Jeremy Garelick. Starring Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Alan Ritchson, Olivia Thirlby, Josh Peck, Affion Crockett, Jorge Garcia, Dan Gill, Cloris Leachman.
REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Jan. 23, 2015
It is the rare film these days that is as aggressively dumb and un-embarrassingly sophomoric as this completely misfired comedy. The severely socially impaired Doug Harris (Gad), getting married to a woman well above his pay grade, doesn’t have a single friend to enlist into his wedding party (to match the seven bridesmaids and maid of honor of his bride to be). Happily for him, he stumbles on the services of Jimmy Callahan (Hart), head of Best Man Inc. Callahan provides not just the service of being best man, with all the appropriate socializing and speechifying, but hires a rogues' gallery of low-lifers to serve as groomsmen.
The film’s narrative is essentially a series of Three Stooges skits as strained through an SNL sensibility. It’s not just that they are unfunny but that they are so desperate to entertain. A drunk putting a lampshade on his head at an office party is subtle compared to the humor here.
There is a chemistry between the two leads, with both Hart and Gad having their moments – only not nearly enough of them. In fact it’s more a single moment – one great extended dance sequence that is really entertaining. Unfortunately, it is surrounded by a flooding river of obvious jokes and amateurishly executed, escalating-disaster scenes of the type of which we are all too familiar. There is a bizarre football game played in the mud that seems as pointless as most of the other activities in this film, except it allows for cameos by folks like Joe Namath and Ed “Too Tall” Jones.
Insult is added to injury when the film turns mawkishly sentimental to such an artificial degree that you can’t believe there won’t be some kind of postmodern cynical leavening. Instead, the last act makes the worst TV sitcoms seem damn Shakespearean in terms of ambition and accomplishment. No hackneyed stereotype is not further denuded here, including the socially privileged cold-bitch fiancée and a hooker with a heart of gold, and where there is also no metaphoric cheap pratfall missed. The film is so flat and tired it really doesn’t deserve the vehemence of this review. It’s like chastising a completely airless tire for not rolling.