Starring Anna Kendrick, Wyatt Russell, June Squibb, Craig Robinson, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Merchant, Tony Revolori
The good news is that Table 19 is better than the three Anna Kendrick films on my worst list in 2016. The bad news, it’s still not a good film or a step in the right direction for the once Oscar nominated actress. This odd-ball comedy is written by the Duplass brothers, but mismanaged by television director Jeffrey Blitz. I’ve seen these TV guys try to cross over into feature film so many times, you can spot them before the movie even starts. Their direction, especially evidenced here by Blitz, is a reduction in cinematic quality. Table 19 starts out as a slapstick comedy (falling out of chairs, running into wedding cakes) but crosses over into a melodramatic drama (pregnant characters, dying of cancer). The script never earns it’s laughs or the sentimental shtick is lands on.
The guests sitting at table 19, in the back of the wedding reception, all begin to realize they are the unwanted misfits of the event. Rezno (Revolori) is the first to take his seat, skipping out on his junior prom, because his mother (Margo Martindale) thinks he has a better chance with women here. Jo (Squibb) is second, the childhood nanny of the bride, a secret drug addict. Bina (Kudrow) and Teddy (Robinson) are an unhappy married couple, Walter (Merchant) just got out of prison, and Eloise (Kendrick) is the former wedding planner/best friend who was recently dumped by the bride’s brother. Together they all suffer through the wedding as they form their own union of friendship, getting to know each other, one crazy circumstance at a time.
The script never earns it’s laughs or the sentimental shtick is lands on.
Kendrick (Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates) continues to accept roles that belittle female characters on screen. Now, I realize every single female character can’t be a Charlize Theron or a Meryl Streep role, but Kendrick has allowed herself typecast in too many weak portrayals. The remaining cast isn’t given enough character development to be memorable; only collect a paycheck, deliver forgettable lines and then it’s back to Kendrick. The casting here isn’t anything to brag on either. Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel) is a 20-year-old actor playing a junior high school student, while Kudrow and Robinson have little to no chemistry, even as a fighting couple. I can appreciate the diversity the casting director was aiming for, but it doesn’t make sense in the script.
Table 19 doesn’t have a life changing message, it doesn’t offer anything we haven’t seen in chaotic wedding movies before. It leans on comedic and emotional stunts to force a reaction from the audience. The light-hearted script will appease those looking for escapism, but the title and its contents will be forgotten before you throw the ticket stub out. It functions much like an unmemorable episode of Friends, where characters move around, interact, but nothing really changes.
Anna Kendrick continues desperately trying and failing to revive the romantic comedy genre.