The Wedding Ringer tries to squeeze a film out of the preposterous notion that groomsman for hire services exist, and make bank. The absurdity is hard to get over and is about as solid as a wedding DJ from Craigslist. After he saves the nuptials of an old schoolmate by delivering an impassioned, and fabricated, best man speech, Jimmy (Kevin Hart) decides to hire himself out to lonely men on their big day. Generally, glad-handing the guests and telling a few punchy stories about the groom will do, but when wealthy tax lawyer Doug (Josh Gad) shows up with a request for seven groomsmen and multiple pre-wedding appearances, Jimmy must roll out the ultimate Golden Tux package.
If you prefer films with some general semblance to reality, seek better alternatives that make a similar statement about friendship and isolation. For my part, I think more highly of this movie than I should, admiring the few moments of clarity when Jimmy and Doug faced their problems with honesty. There was a willingness to confront their loneliness without shame, which is more than the bromance standards of the past decade have done. Those films tend to resort to bluster and fake machismo to cover up for their characters’ fear of adult responsibility and desire for a deeper emotional connection. But when Doug explains that he moved around a lot as a child and finally decided to just stop making new friends, he doesn’t complain or make excuses. Nor does Jimmy when he is concedes that his own interactions are limited to business relationships. There is something refreshing about male characters who struggle with their insecurities but still own up to them.
However, the majority of the movie doesn’t capitalize on that sentiment. Despite some plainspoken yearning for friendship, much of the space is cluttered with clichéd gags and jokes that simply don’t deliver. Gad and a toned-down Hart are surprisingly compatible, so there’s no need to distract with shiny baubles. Jimmy’s band of misfit groomsmen, whose “special skills” include having three testicles and dislocating a shoulder on the spot, are good for one weak laugh, if that. The requisite bachelor party features an unoriginal, unfunny bit about a dog and Doug’s nether regions. Other tricks include setting grandma on fire and playing a muddy, mismatched game of football. Ignacio Serricchio as a fey wedding planner did make me laugh, but not for playing a stereotype. To make a comparison, this film resembles many weddings I attend – touching at times but conventional and not altogether memorable.
Prod: Adam Fields, Will Packer
Dir: Jeremy Garelick
Writer: Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender
Cast: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Ignacio Serricchio, Cloris Leachman, Mimi Rogers, Jenifer Lewis, Jorge Garcia, Josh Peck
Time: 101 min
Country: United States