The Wedding Ringer
Weddings are inherently funny occasions. You have the lavish circumstances; the forced company of two different families with all their internal wranglings; the pomp and ceremony and, of course, the social lubricant that solves all friction – alcohol. So, it’s hard to imagine how a filmmaker can document or portray such an event and manage to sap every ounce of humour and enjoyment from it. But now that Jeremy Garelick has made The Wedding Ringer, one doesn’t have to imagine any longer.
The Wedding Ringer tells the story Doug Harris (Josh Gad), an overweight, unattractive and, alas, friendless, rich guy and his bride-to-be, Gretchen Palmer (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). They are getting married and they are preparing for said marriage, but oh no, Doug has no friends and therefore no best man and groomsmen. In steps Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), a professional best man, (yes, I wrote those words) and The Wedding Ringer shows its true colours as a comedy vehicle for Kevin Hart.
The thing about comedy vehicles is – they should probably be funny. And The Wedding Ringer is far from funny. In fact it is a hodge podge of random scenes that seem to go against the grain of the film. Peripheral characters are overblown and ridiculous, set pieces and what appear to be sketch ideas are not so much peppered into the film, but instead dropped from a great height. Wherever this penis/dog scene lands, there it shall stay.
Kevin Hart is fine in the film. He doesn’t offer more than he has to and the script certainly doesn’t ask much from him. The film is essentially a similar kind of vehicle to the trite tripe that Kevin James has been peddling for years. This type of filmmaking will never do anything for Kevin Hart when it comes to pushing forward the narrative or progression of his career, but it sure as hell will make his bank account look a lot less like mine.
I am a bit more disappointed in Josh Gad and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting though. Josh Gad is at his best when he is playing a slightly sleazy, slightly pathetic vulgarian. He does it so well. In The Wedding Ringer he has to play a lead role as a straight man and this never really rings true. He comes across as horribly miscast and it is unfortunate for someone that has seemed to be building up quite a head of steam in recent films.
Cuoco-Sweeting gets her first big role in a feature film following her success as the lovable Penny in The Big Bang Theory, but in the end her character is eye candy - the almost nameless wife-to-be of the male character. We barely find out anything about her personality and there are large portions of the film where she is either not to be seen or where she is not to be heard. It is hugely disappointing that someone who has proven to have such delightful comic-timing in The Big Bang Theory is given no time to be comic in this film.
The Wedding Ringer attempts to take inspiration from many films, but instead ends up plagerising them badly. A scene that particularly stands out in this way, involves an overly aggressive American Football match with Doug’s future in-laws. For a few minutes The Wedding Ringer becomes The Wedding Crashers and all things in life seem pointless. There are also hackneyed elements ‘borrowed’ from the likes of The Hangover, Meet the Parents and basically any wedding-related films… except maybe The Godfather and The Deer Hunter.
The end result feels like a director was given two weeks and told to make a Kevin Hart Comedy Vehicle Film. If you plan on seeing this, go see something else.
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