Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Misfits at a Wedding Reception


Anna Kendrick in the Siberia of “Table 19”

By Skip Sheffield

Is there anything sadder than being stag at a wedding reception?
That is the plight of Anna Kendrick in the very funny wedding comedy “Table 19,” directed by Jeffry Blitz (Rocket Science") and written by Jay and Mark Duplass ("Transparent").
Kendrick is a woman of many talents and she shows off most of them as Eloise McGarry, a woman who was supposed to be Maid of Honor with Best Man Teddy Miller (Wyatt Russell) only to be dumped at the last minute by Teddy, who has found a new babe to take Eloise’s place in the wedding procession.
Instead of skulking away in defeat, Eloise defiantly accepts the invitation to the very expensive and elaborate wedding on an island. After all, the bride, Francie Miller, is Eloise’s oldest friend.
The table numbers descend in relation to the importance of the guests, starting at No. 1 for the bride and groom. Table 19 is at the bottom, for “random guests.” So instead of being at Table 3 with Teddy, Eloise is grouped with strangers, and an odd lot it is. There is Bina Kepp (Lisa Kudrow) and her husband Jerry (Craig Robinson), who have only a distant relationship with the bride. Renzo Eckberg (Tony Revolori) is a young pipsqueak dominated by the mother, who thinks his prospects of picking up an actual girl are better at a wedding reception than the junior prom.
The person with the closest relationship with the bride is Jo Flanagan (Ruth Squibb), who was once her nanny. Oddest of all is Walter Thimple (British actor Stephen Merchant) who is a nephew of the groom’s father, who despises him. Merchant is a tall, gangling man with thick glasses who plays to great comic effect. As dinner approaches the characters drop their facades amidst many pratfalls and faux pas.
Equally at home with comedy and drama, Kendrick plays both sides as woebegone Eloise. It is rewarding to see her given the lead in a major motion picture. She deserves it.

As a veteran of countless weddings, mostly as a musician, I have seen just about every setup plot gag in real life, but I still laughed. I think you will too.

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