Table 19 Movie Review
Table 19 Movie Review Metadata
Who hasn’t been seated at a table 19? You know, the table that is closest to the bar, but that’s also last to be served, offers smells of the toilets due to the proximity to the bathrooms, and is farthest from the bride and groom, dance floor, and well anything else important at the wedding (perhaps the reason why it’s so close to the bar). Also known as the worst table at the wedding. No one else? Just me? If you’re wondering what it’s like to be “that guy” or “that girl,” Table 19 will take you on that ride. Whether you’re up to that ride, well, that’s up to you, as the trailer can be deceiving.
Written by the Duplass Brothers (Jay and Mark of HBO’s Togetherness fame), Table 19 stars Anna Kendrick as Eloise McGarry, a recent dumpee who struggles with the decision of whether to attend the wedding of her oldest friend after losing her maid of honor role because she was dumped by the soon-to-be-bride’s brother (and best man)…by text. We’re talking about a guy who wrote “good luck with your future endeavors” to end it. A winner indeed. Eloise ultimately decides to attend the wedding and it is there that she finds herself not at table one with the bride and groom, her former boyfriend, and others, but at table 19, or as the bride’s mother calls them, “the table that should have known to send regrets but not before sending something nice off the registry”…”the table that could disappear in the middle of the wedding and no one would notice”. In Table 19, the bride and groom get just a few minutes of screen time and instead the movie focuses on, as Kendrick called them in a recent interview, “those people way in the back who don’t really know anybody and what kind of trouble…they get into”.
It is here that we meet a cast of misfits including Walter Thimble (Stephen Merchant, Hello Ladies (2013-2014)), fresh out of prison; Bina (Lisa Kudrow, Friends (1994-2004)) and Jerry (Craig Robinson, The Office (2005-2013)) Kepp, an unhappy couple who own a local diner; Rezno Eckberg (Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Dope (2015)), a horny teenager; and Jo Flanagan (June Squibb, Nebraska (2013)), the bride’s childhood nanny.
The movie starts strong with the Duplass Brothers leveraging their ability for comedy. Each table 19 guest is given their opportunity for laughs, but it is gangly British comedian Stephen Merchant using his 6’7″ frame and dry wit to usher in laughs, Tony Revolori’s painful pickup lines as he attempts to get laid that make you cringe but still giggle, and Kudrow’s wedding attire that get the best laughs. It’s this strong start and eventual flameout that is most disappointing.
Outside of these six guests, we are treated with thinly developed and stereotypical attendees of a wedding, whether it be the drunk mother, the hunky stranger/love interest, the promiscuous single girl, or the lame guy trying to land said promiscuous single girl. We are also left with a director (Jeffrey Blitz directing his first major Hollywood film and reuniting him with Kendrick who starred in his first film Rocket Science) who relies far too heavily on sight gags, perhaps falling back on them as a result of his deep TV comedy resume. Having people fall down for a laugh is acceptable for a high school production, but not for a Hollywood movie (and certainly not multiple times). And, after an enjoyable first third of the movie, it takes a very serious turn, derailing the “comedy” and struggling to find its way back to what moviegoers expected. Whereas the Duplass brothers were successful in balancing comedy and drama in their well-reviewed TV series, they fail here with a similar attempt.
Ultimately, the movie which is billed as a comedy by most and rom-com by many, Table 19 feels more like a dramedy due to its heavy middle half. And, with much of the cast being of a TV comedic background, drama is a reach. While June Squibb shines throughout as the all-wise nanny, Kudrow and Robinson, two fantastic comedic actors, lack any chemistry and are completely unbelievable as a couple. Worse, the always reliable, funny, and adorable Kendrick suffers the most due to the uneven script and poor direction.
As I look back at the film, had I not been sold on the film as a comedy/rom com and more as a dramedy, perhaps I would have walked away with a better outlook at this movie. For me, though, it felt like a bait and switch. This is one wedding that I don’t want to attend again.