We’ve probably all been to weddings where, like the other strangers at your table, you have a marginal connection to the bride and groom. That is essentially the premise of the new comedy Table 19 , in which a disparate group of wedding guests who don’t know each other — and barely seem to know either half of the newly married couple — find themselves at the worst-placed table at the reception.
One person, Eloise (Anna Kendrick), is the catalyst of the plot, having been banished to this table after relinquishing her maid of honor duties because of a nasty breakup (via text message) with the best man, Teddy (Wyatt Russell), who also happens to be the brother of the bride, Eloise’s oldest friend. Can you say awkward? As I say in my video review (click the link above to watch), the basic gist of writer-director Jeffrey Blitz’s comedy (from a story by Mark and Jay Duplass, who usually deal with more substantial indie material than this) is also awkward. It’s pretty predictable right from the start that this crazy group of tablemates, each with stereotypical quirks and personalities, ultimately will band together for their own adventures as this pleasant but forgettable 90-minute trifle soldiers on.
So let’s see: In addition to the disgruntled ex-maid of honor, we have a guy who’s just out of prison for a white-collar crime (Stephen Merchant); the bride’s childhood nanny (June Squibb), who also likes to smoke pot; a quarrelsome married couple (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow); and a sex-starved young man (Tony Revolori) — all thrown together at a wedding they don’t really seem to have much connection to. Their bonding soon builds due in part to Eloise’s continuing woes with Teddy, as well as a possible new attraction to another guest. Stuff starts happening, they move around in a pack, each has their moment. It is a formula right out of The Love Boat.
But the one reason I am giving this one-joke premise a pass is the sterling and very game cast Blitz has put together including the always likable and appealing Kendrick, who does her best with thin material to really make us care. Russell (son of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell) clearly is a chip off the old block with sharp timing and a winning way with dialogue. The others do their best with largely one-note characters but are fun to watch, particularly Squibb’s (Nebraska) doddering but sweet Nanny Jo. I liked the mysterious Merchant a lot as well. All of these actors are accomplished enough to try and take this beyond the realm of TV sitcom, and even if they don’t succeed, at least it is a bit of fun here and there to watch them try. Oh, and did I say one of them smashes into the wedding cake? You get the picture.
Producers are Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen, P. Jennifer Dana, Tom McNulty and Mark Roberts. Fox Searchlight releases the film Friday. Do you plan to see Table 19? Let us know what you think.