What did you expect at this time of year? A funny comedy? NOT
Director: Jeffrey Blitz (The Office)
Screenplay: Jay Duplass (Cyrus), Mark Duplass (Jeff Who Lives at Home)
Cast: Anna Kendrick (The Accountant), Lisa Kudrow (Neighbors)
by John DeSando
The Duplass brothers, writers of the comedy Table 19, have always had a dry sense of humor (Cyrus, Jeff Who Lives at Home); here they make you parched with slow dialogue from lack of wit. Yet along the way their story is laced with heart no more evident than the warm misfits placed at the wedding’s most dismissible table.
Heading the notoriously neglected is Eloise (Anna Kendrick), the former bridesmaid jettisoned by the bride’s brother before the ceremony. However, plucky El goes to the reception to confront her ex, support her oldest friend, and eventually meet charming table mates who spend some time upstairs smoking weed.
The heart manifests itself in gentle Walter (Stephan Merchant), who is on release from prison; diminutive romantic Renzo (Tony Revolori), who just wants to “get laid”; Jerry (Craig Robinson) and Bina Kepp (Lisa Kudrow), who need marriage counseling and a better reason for their roles being in a comedy; and Jo (June Squibb), whose pot they are using and whose post as a former nanny gives her license to drag out the usual old-person’s philosophy.
Because these stereotypical outsiders are so lovable, the audience, who clapped at the end, seemed to forgive them for the flat dialogue and laughed mostly at their gratuitous pratfalls. In the end, nothing was worthy of the belly laughs found in Wedding Crashers or Bridesmaids.
It’s the dumping ground time of year for movies, and Table 19 fits the profile of a mediocre film thrown out at the beginning of the year because the suits don’t want to chew up valuable space as the year progresses Yet, that heart—you do feel affection for the eccentric characters and pity they have so little to say.
Come to think of it, they are the victims of banal writing and as characters deserve to be at the infamous holding pen for undesirables, a bit like immigrants caught in political maneuvering.
Table 19 is not the worst comedy to be released at this time of year.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com