By: Addison Wylie
With The Wedding Ringer, you get what you came for. But, just barely.
It helps when you compare Jeremy Garelick’s film next to other recent R-rated comedies that take place around a wedding. It’s far better than That’s My Boy, and is narrowly beat out by What’s Your Number?. That’s a pretty pitiful way to look at things, but at this point, I’ll take whatever I can get.
The Wedding Ringer also features stand-up comedian Kevin Hart as his most charming self. His character Jimmy Callahan is manipulative and his career as a best man-for-hire is steadily pernicious, but you can’t help but like the guy when he starts filing through his do’s and don’ts of his trade. He’s skilled and he has his smooth talking strategies ironed out, and we can recognize that and give him appropriate props.
Hart has been given the task to carry lamebrain comedies before (Soul Plane, Ride Along), but The Wedding Ringer marks the first time where his effort helps keep the movie afloat instead of exhausting the already tired material. However, there’s no ignoring the fact that Garelick’s first feature film seems as if its been pieced together by scraps of modern popularity. The actors haven’t been cast based on their potential, but rather on their ability to be a beacon of familiarity.
Josh Gad, riding off the success of crowd pleasers and Frozen, stars as typical underdog friendless schmuck Doug Harris. Doug is engaged to Gretchen (played by The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), but the bride-to-be seems to appear only to give audiences a chance to point and whisper, “there’s Penny from Big Bang“. Cuoco-Sweeting, who has the ability to be a sharp deadpan on-screen partner, is given nothing to do other than give in to typical bridezilla clichés.
Doug hires Jimmy, and gives the con artist an alias – Bic Mitchum. Jimmy brings in a collection of typical knuckleheads and numbskulls to act as Doug’s groomsmen. They range from being slightly odd to socially comatose. Despite this procedure having a daunting concept, this crackpot team is certain the ploy will work. After all, Jimmy’s office is littered with group photos of successful past weddings; all of which feature horrendous photoshop jobs – not on purpose.
As you can see, “typical” is the keyword here. Multiple scenes are ripping off other gross out comedies, and some schtick is overexposed. There are two painfully long sequences: one where the boys challenge older men to a harmless game of football, and the other is one of those wild bachelor parties that only exist in movies. The bachelor party manages to copy There’s Something About Mary, The Hangover, and Animal House all in one swipe, while the muddy sports game features the same prat falls over and over again. I would’ve liked to have seen these scenes trimmed, and the extra time given to opportunities that are otherwise missed (such as Jeff Ross’ wasted cameo as a wedding singer and Hart acting as an impromptu minister).
But, as I said, if you come for cheap laughs, cheap laughs you’ll get. A few physical gags do their job, Hart is amusingly slick, and Doug’s lonely personality is endearing as his friendship with Jimmy grows. The Wedding Ringer, while no prize pig, at least doesn’t send you home empty-handed.