By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Attending a wedding can be fun and exciting, but that all depends on one’s place in life. If going through a rough patch, attending the wedding of a friend or relative can get sad, frustrating, and utterly awkward. Written by the Duplass brothers, Table 19 presents the latter scenario for a group of wedding guests who were invited out of either courtesy or obligation. The result is a comedy that has a decent share of funny moments, but stalls considerably when it comes to character development and actually going somewhere interesting with the overall story.
Anna Kendrick stars as Eloise McGarry, a recently jilted young lady who was originally supposed to be the maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding. However, her breakup with the bride’s brother and best man (Wyatt Russell) puts her in a most awkward place. Out of courtesy, Eloise’s invitation to the wedding stands, but she gets seated at table 19, a table that has all of the guests whom the hosts actually hoped would decline their invitations. Other guests of table 19 include the constantly bickering married couple Bina (Lisa Kudrow) and Jerry Kemp (Craig Robinson), former nanny Jo Flannigan (June Squibb), ex-business associate Walter Thimple (Stephen Merchant), and the sweet, but floundering teen Enzo Eckberg (Tony Revolori). Throughout the evening, much bickering takes place, accidents happen, mistakes abound, and important decisions get made. Regardless of their differences, the people of table 19 bond and end up as close friends who attempt to help each other with their individual problems.
Directed by Jeffrey Blitz, Table 19 may have an excellent cast, but this assortment of talent deserves a better script and film. On the plus side, their comic chops do not get totally wasted. Anna Kendrick does well as the flighty and faltering Eloise. Jo Flannigan does exceptionally as the maternal Jo Flannigan, Stephen Merchant is equally perfect as the sweet-natured, but gawky Walter Thimple, and Tony Revolori does just as well as the poster child of adolescent confusion. Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson are fine as Bina and Jerry Kemp, but I feel any decent talents could have filled those roles.
The problem really isn’t the acting, though. The character development stalls with just about every single character during the “turning points” of their stories. The resolutions with the character’s story lines are not all that exciting and things get wrapped up too perfectly to be credible. Some of the character’s subplots go nowhere, while others follow the path of romantic movie cliches. To its credit, a good amount of the comedy works and most of the characters have their charms, but in the bigger scheme of the film, the filmmakers fail to do anything dynamic or fascinating with the story development.
As enjoyable as the film can get, I cannot highly recommend this movie as a matinee or full-priced theatrical viewing. A film with these problems is better left for a television viewing via rental or streaming. I would definitely temper my expectations, though. The Duplass brothers have made some truly remarkable films, but this just isn’t one of them.