Looking at the elements that make up the new comedy Table 19, it looks like a pretty sweetheart film. It has an interesting ensemble of players, led by the one-time internet’s favorite girlfriend Anna Kendrick, and features some great supporting comedy stars like Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, Nebraska’s scene-stealer June Squibb and Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori, who seems to be getting younger instead of older. The script of this wedding comedy with romantic subtext comes from indie darling writer and filmmakers Jay and Mark Duplass, who have a knack for creating buzzworthy mumblecore stories, which is my cue to namedrop their HBO series, Togetherness. With all these pieces fitting together to make up this movie, it seems like it should be a quick hit but it feels like the brothers may have had a little bit of the “Hollywood money talks” Kool-Aid and adopted some of that distracting gloss.
Kendrick stars as Eloise, a woman going through a very tough break up and it’s about to get a whole lot worse. She’s invited to the wedding of her ex-boyfriend’s sister, her best friend who she skipped out on when the relationship ended abruptly. Now moved to the final table of the reception, she occupies the story with a colorful cast of characters including a married couple from the midwest (Kudrow and Robinson), who own a diner and a deteriorating marriage, the bride and best man’s former nanny (Squibb), an ex-con uncle of the bride (Merchant) and a young man (Revolori) just looking for the opportunity to release himself from his virginity. They start out as strangers but then find a common bond with their situation is wedding party stature.
Table 19, if it had relied on the people they put into place on this film, would have succeeded on being a satisfying “Breakfast Club of the Wedding” type movie about the outcasts of the party finding an equal level to bond on. Each actor only feels like they can stretch their very experienced improv legs a limited amount and, when it comes to geniuses like Stephen Merchant, we know that they could almost carry the movie on their own. Hell, I’d watch an entire movie that focused solely on the socially bumbling and ashamedly secretive character he plays.
With films under their belts like Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives At Home, I was really expecting more from Jay and Mark Duplass, especially with the overall emotional arc of the movie. In a very phoned in feeling base to the script, there are sparks of a great and funny movie with some heart that is worn on the character’s sleeve, maybe save for Tony Revolori’s character who sort of flounders in a shallow cliche. Even Eloise’s ex, played by Wyatt Russell, has a couple of great moments but each of these scenes are immediately undercut with something that either destroys the tone of what was delivered in the scene before or goes too far and over saturates it until in feels so contrived in its overly optimistic and unreal resolution. I think it’s why that this movie, instead of making me resonate with the good comedy and interactions, feel like I ingested a diabetic amount of sugar. 2.5/5