For months I’ve been thinking of Table 19 as Anna Kendrick’s wedding comedy. And it is that, but not in the way you might expect. I anticipated scenes of one-upmanship and destruction. Mistaken intentions and miscommunications. More or less everything that exists in My Best Friend’s Wedding and Wedding Crashers and The Wedding Planner and The Wedding Singer all tossed into a blender and assembled into a new story. In fact, the touch points were more reminiscent of The Breakfast Club with a twist of Mean Girls and nods to Linklater’s chatty ensembles.
After a montage of invites, we follow the inhabitants of Table 19 — the worst table in the place, which is made up of randos, and just happens to include the former Maid of Honor, Eloise (Anna Kendrick). Why she alternately weeps and sets fire to the invite before arriving to face her spot at the worst table is not immediately revealed, and the actual reasons provide more surprise than I expected in the whole of the film. She’s joined by an unfailingly snipe-y married couple, the Kepps (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), the bride’s former nanny (June Squib), the socially awkward black sheep of the groom’s father’s family (Stephen Merchant) and the teenaged son of some random acquaintance who is dispatched by his mom to meet girls (Tony Revolori).
The script from the Duplass brothers has a decided tone of melancholy and positions our unlikely heroes far enough away from the expected action of the wedding that we’re instead left to focus on the bigger things happening within their own lives as the day passes. This is a fascinating experiment that deserves points for intentions even if the construct isn’t always successful. There are some moments of wonderful humor here, often thanks to Kudrow and Robinson , but there are also a lot of jokes that just don’t land. Tony Revelori nails the awkward teen bit, but most of what he’s asked to do feels out of place in the story, and so often doesn’t work. Curiously, the script seems to do the least to allow Kendrick to shine — she still manages to pull it off, but for the protagonist she feels rather underwritten, largely reacting to her circumstances and companions.
Walking out, it’s difficult not to feel that Table 19 could have been so much more. Still, uneven as it is, Table 19 deserves some credit for its efforts to do something different.
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Writer: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass
Runtime: 1h 27mins
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Main Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures