Jacqueline Gualtieri ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Does anyone actually enjoy going to weddings? For the most part, though, wedding movies tend to depict happy endings, whether it be for the bride and groom who finally made it to the altar or for the maid of honor who found her prince after seeing all her friends get married or for the wedding crashers who ride off into the sunset. Table 19 is a real, honest depiction of a wedding.
After helping to plan the wedding of her oldest friend and the sister of her boyfriend, Eloise (Anna Kendrick) finds herself broken up with and attending the wedding alone, where she’s been relegated to the very last table, Table 19. When she was supposed to be the maid of honor, she’s instead at a table with all the people who also don’t fit in with the happy festivities around them. Although it’s billed more as comedy, Table 19 is partially a romance, partially a comedy, and partially a drama.
Although the table is filled with a funny cast of characters, none of them particularly steal the show. Loveless Renzo (Tony Revolori), awkward Walter (Stephen Merchant), and unhappy couple Jerry and Bina (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow) are all fine. There’s nothing bad about any of the performances, but there’s also no standout. The only member of the table that deserves recognition was Nanny Jo (June Squibb), but not for her comedy. She is witty and quick, but she has a more important role as the heart of the film. She’s Eloise’s foil. Where Eloise is temperamental and more than a bit irritated about her circumstances, Nanny Jo is just happy to be remembered for being a great nanny. She’s willing to look at things with rose colored glasses and she takes Eloise under her wing, even when she hurts her.
At some points, the drama in the movie can be heavy-handed. The script is filled with twists that lend to the film’s comedy, but the dramatic twists do more to detract than add to the story. Eventually, too many dramatic revelations take the movie nearly to the point of a soap opera. When the story returns to being more of a comedy, the movie immediately picks back up. There’s a lot of realism to the story and it seemed as though the Duplass brothers went out of their way to create that feeling when writing the script. But in an attempt to be realistic and relatable, they might have went a little too far in the drama, when the movie could have benefited from being more comedic.
The story does a decent job of not just being a typical romantic comedy. We see more of Eloise and Nanny Jo’s relationship on screen than we see of her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Teddy (Wyatt Russell). But the romance that is included is imperfect and very flawed. It’s more realistic than what’s usually depicted in a drama. They acknowledge that none of it’s perfect and it’s pleasant to see that things aren’t just wrapped up in a bow. It’s not a fairy tale and the couple is okay with that.
The way that Teddy is written is another great step away from the typical idea of the love interest in a romantic comedy. He’s not a knight in shining armour. He doesn’t get the most screen time, but when he is on screen, Russell does become a scene stealer. In the short amount of time we see him, we learn that Teddy is scared of the future, scared of standing up to his family, believes he’s a screw up, is jealous and temperamental, and is a good brother, and that doesn’t even scratch the surface. The depiction of his and Eloise’s love is messy and even sometimes angry. It’s easy to imagine Eloise and Teddy as a real couple, at least when you take out a few of the unrealistic grand speeches.
Table 19 was meant to comedy. When the film is in it’s lighter moments, it’s flawlessly funny, the type of comedy that will have you doubling over laughing. If the writers had stuck on that path, the film might have benefitted from it. Much like the characters at Table 19, the film itself isn’t much of a standout. It’s decent. It’s funny. The main characters are pretty well written and pretty well acted. When you take out the melodrama, it’s fun movie. It’s worth watching for the laughs if you’re willing to overlook the soap opera twists.
Overall Grade: B
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