Kevin Hart hits the big time in a surprisingly charming paint by numbers comedy.
Almost everything about The Wedding Ringer spells social deterioration, we are given mindless humour predicated on unfortunate accidents happening to unlikable characters with little to no repercussions. I watched the film while sharpening my knives ready to carve up this forgettable deception piece, but yet i write my review looking to optimistically find positives.
The Wedding Ringer tells us a well worn story of a socially awkward man Doug Harris, seeking hired help to deceive a loved one. We have seen it with fake girlfriends, families, jobs and all sorts of other falsehoods. The tension and humour entirely predicated on the audiences knowledge that something is going on and at some point its all going to fall apart, but in the meantime we will see awkward fumbled exchanges and developing emotional connections between polar opposite people. The Wedding Ringer sets about that exact premise. Kevin Hart’s Jimmy is hired as Doug’s best man for his upcoming wedding to Gretchen Palmer (reckon shes upper class white? reckon throwing a vibe talking African American stereotype in there will cause laughs?) as well as a team of oddball mercenary groomsmen that provide most of the laughs. In the process of awkward exchanges we see the burning of relatives and a crazy bucks party. Business as usual then.
Somebody will need to sit me down one day and explain the appeal of Josh Gad as a leading man. He was fine as a bit player or a sidekick, but to cast him as a lead was surely a misstep. Gad is as neurotic as Woody Allen but will all the social grace of Jonah Hill, a truly unlikable actor and understandable as a character with no friends. Much of the basis of this deception film trope is about the emotional understanding the leads have when thrust together but i cant understand why Hart’s likable Bic would ever find a connection here. Kaley Couco -Sweeting is passable and the supporting cast play their low rent or highly strung stereotypes well to ensure the base laughs are met. The groomsmen are unbelievably crass an low brow but it plays well against Kevin Harts ringleader and Gads forced victim. Indeed Gad’s scenes with the group show him at his most sympathetic and likable.
The Wedding Ringer could easily be forgotten as a Hollywood cash in on the growing popularity of Kevin Hart and lost in a pile of Adam Sandler and Kevin James movies on Netflix, but there is a great deal of heart that will give me moment to pause and linger as i scroll past it to get to a movie with repeat viewing potential. The heart comes from the script which in the final act steers from the expected and delivers a conclusion far more satisfying that not many people would have realised they wanted. Without giving away the end, I was sitting predicting the end and from the time all the pieces were in place for the reveal of the farce, they flipped the script in a believable and satisfying way. Its not a huge surprise to learn Writer/Director Jeremy Garelick was also a screenwriter on The Break-Up, another star driven Hollywood comedy that steered away from a conventional ending and was all the more satisfying for it.
Some well placed cameos, heartwarming interactions, a truly oddball supporting cast and twist ending help Hart carry the dead weight that is Josh Gad’s career and a formulaic Hollywood comedy to make The Wedding Ringer a movie i wouldn’t be against watching on a slow rainy Sunday.