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Wedding Ringer, The
January is known as the dumping ground for studios. After putting their entire focus on the November-December awards season, studios place whatever cheap and undesirable properties they have lined up in January. These are properties that usually tend to be dumber than a bag of bricks comedies or lame mid-budget action fare released as counterprogramming for smarter prestige dramas that are left over from the awards season. Considering those standards, as a January comedy, The Wedding Ringer is far from terrible. It's an unoriginal yet harmless R-rated bromantic comedy that benefits from a cast full of established comedians lending their talents to such an unremarkable project.
The Wedding Ringer is basically a mix of I Love You Man, Hitch and Wedding Crashers. It adapts the story structure of a typical romantic comedy to a bromance the way I Love You Man did. It's about a loner who needs help figuring out his love life, which was what Hitch was about. Finally, it has the envelope-pushing-for-general-audiences-who-are-not-used-to-genuinely-raunchy-material feel of a light R-rated comedy like The Wedding Crashers. The fact that the whole story revolves around a wedding and the screenplay actually shows the two main characters crash another wedding helps this theory as well.
The story is about Doug (Josh Gad), a nerdy loner who's about to get married to the gorgeous Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). The only problem is that since Doug doesn't have friends, he made up a best man in order to not look like a complete loser to Gretchen. That's where Jimmy (Kevin Hart) comes in. Jimmy is a professional best man who gets paid to pretend to be the best friend to a bunch of lonely men who are about to take the plunge. I'm aware that this is a ridiculous concept, one that would have been foiled within a couple of minutes of Jimmy showing up at a wedding party.
The film tries to explain its premise by having Jimmy state that out of millions of weddings that take place in the US, a lot of them are eventually going to have grooms without friends. This explanation is not much to go on, but it's the best we're going to get. Out of desperation, Doug hires Jimmy and forces him to pull off a "Golden tux", a wedding with him as the best man and seven made up friends to be the groomsmen.
The transformation of the seven men, who are a bunch of weirdos and creeps in real life, into respectable groomsmen creates some of the legitimately amusing scenes in the film. The fact that these men are played by some of the most talented comedians of our generation (Affion Crockett, Corey Holcomb…) helps the film's case. Also, casting Jorge Garcia as one of these groomsmen leads to an obvious but memorable final line before the credits roll.
Kevin Hart and Josh Gad have a lot of chemistry and manage to steer the project away from terrible and into mediocre. Some of their bromance moments, including a surprisingly tender climactic monologue by Hart create some of the best scenes in this forgettable comedy.
Yet the problem is with the overall tone, which switches from dialogue-based comedy that focuses on improvisation, to physical slapstick sequences that are pulled straight out of a Happy Madison production. The film seems to have suffered from a lot of studio interference with executives possibly forcing first time feature director Jeremy Garelick to add a bunch of tired slapstick schtick. That's how we get a painfully unfunny scene centered on Gretchen's grandmother (The great Cloris Leachman is completely wasted here) being set on fire, as well as a car chase scene that once again spoofs that famous moon shot from that E.T. movie all the kids seem to be raving about these days.
The Wedding Ringer sports a spiffy but very predictable digital cinematography where the film's digital roots pop during action heavy sequences. This is the second R-rated comedy with a car chase scene after Horrible Bosses 2 that look like it was shot with a bunch of GoPro cameras. However, the 1080p transfer seems to stay loyal to the source and doesn't suffer from any video noise.
I can understand that the filmmakers might have wanted to turn The Wedding Ringer into a dynamic comedy via loud sfx and music, and it should be fun for audiences to enjoy the loud and surround heavy DTS HD 5.1 track offered on the disc. However, what truly matters is if the sound mix fits the genre. This is a comedy that relies on the improvisational talents of the two leads, yet a lot of the dialogue becomes muffled whenever there's any physical action happening on screen. Get ready to either turn on the subtitles or to constantly adjust the volume on your system.
Select Scene Audio Commentary by Jeremy Garelick and Josh Gad: Gad and Garelick have some fun talking about the film but it's frustrating to have to sit through sections of silence in order to hear them talk again.
Deleted Scenes: A whopping 21-minutes of deleted scenes, most of which shows gags that are not important to the story.
Outtakes: 14 minutes of outtakes and flubbed lines that wear out their welcome very fast.
Line-o-rama: 14 minutes of improvised lines. This feature is even more useless than the Outtakes reel.
Going to The Chapel of Love: In this short EPK, the cast and crew talk about their personal wedding stories. Cute, but unremarkable and cheesy.
Music Video, "Can You Do This" by Aloe Blacc: Almost the entire cast shows up on this video. They all seem to have a fun dance-off.
Despite its R-rating, The Wedding Ringer is a fairly inoffensive comedy that can be easily watched with half an eye while doing other chores. The performances by the group of talented comedians on display keep it from being a typical Adam Sandler-style train wreck, but the lame physical gags make sure we get close to that low standard.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com