As a movie critic, I get asked this question at least once a month.
“Does it matter what kind of mood you’re in when you watch a movie?”
It’s strange, because I never thought that should matter. I remember being surprised when Siskel & Ebert gave thumbs down to Unforgiven, an incredible Clint Eastwood western. After it garnered many Oscar nominations, they rewatched it, gave it “thumbs up” claiming they saw it after being in bad moods. One of them had just had a fight with his wife. I call BS. If I would’ve watched Unforgiven in a bad mood, my mood would have gotten better. Unless you have some incredibly traumatic thing in your life happen (your spouse just died), that might affect how you feel about the movie.
So on my way to Table 19, I was in a good mood. It was “Taco Tuesday” and we were going for Mexican food before the show. The movie is a comedy that was originally written by Jay and Mark Duplass, who do indie pictures I dig (go find Safety Not Guaranteed). This was starring two comedic greats — Craig Robinson (The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine) as well as Stephen Merchant. He’s the tall bloke who was in Extras and co-creator of the British version of The Office.
So I was in the best of moods driving down to Mission Valley to watch this comedy. We pulled off the freeway on to Friars Road, to grab dinner before the film. Yet the main road was closed due to the flooding from the heavy storm that hit San Diego. We turned down one street, which brought us into a parking lot. There were about 100 cars waiting to get out, and nobody was moving. We parked there, and walked two miles to the Mexican restaurant. Yet to get there, we walked through a closed road. We saw a few dog walkers doing it, so we figured it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, we ended up in mud and sewage, and a few times, I almost fell on my ass. My shoes had to be thrown away, and we were both miserable. But hey…I wasn’t about to let this affect my movie going experience. After all, this stars the always adorable Anna Kendrick, the perfect actress to play a jilted girlfriend that has to endure her friend’s wedding with the ex-boyfriend as the best man. She’s relegated to hanging with the island of misfit guests — table 19 at the reception.
The others at the table include June Squibb, who was so terrific in Nebraska. She’s a bit too dour for the role as the one-time nanny who has been forgotten by the family. Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson have decent chemistry as a fighting couple that run a diner together. Yet the direction their story goes is awful.
Also at table 19, Tony Revolori, who was good in two disappointing films — Dope and The Grand Budapest Hotel. He plays a virgin that takes his mother’s advice and shows up at the wedding hoping to score. Yet it’s hard for us to root for a guy that’s just throwing lines awkwardly at any girl he sees in the hopes of getting laid. We root for love and romance, not scoring on a bridesmaid that’s had too much champagne. It’s one of the reasons why we liked the nerdy Michael Anthony Hall character in The Breakfast Club (a movie this obviously wishes it was, especially with the ‘80s songs we hear the wedding band constantly playing).
Stephen Merchant, the one I was most excited to see, plays easily the dumbest character you’ll see on screen this year. He’s living in a halfway house, after a stint in prison. You wonder why he’d attend the wedding at all, since he stole money from the bride’s father. For some reason, he’s incapable of properly lying when it comes to what he does for a living. He’s so bad at it, you just cringe at how idiotic this script is. It’s also hard to figure out why he’s always making bizarre faces and leering at everything. Before it’s revealed why he was in prison, I thought it was for some sexual crime.
They showed the wedding cake and my wife said, “You realize at some point that cake is going to be destroyed by one of these people.”
Critic David Ehrlich said, “The wedding cake, ominously introduced in the first act, has by far the film’s most interesting character arc.”
It was also an example of the wedding cliches sprinkled throughout this lame picture.
Director Jeffrey Blitz gave us one of the best documentaries of all time, Spellbound in 2002. He obviously knew just what to show us with the various kids participating in a national spelling bee. Why he doesn’t get how to do a comedy that’s actually a decent premise, is beyond me. It’s uneven, never commits to a tone that works, and relies on jokes that are rarely funny. There are pratfalls, people smoking pot in a hotel room, and walking through the woods and contemplating life.
Do you think things will turn around for the cast of characters relegated to table 19? If you’re not sure, you’ve never seen an ‘80s movie.
If this movie didn’t feel like the first draft the Dupless brothers did, there might have been something here. Instead, we listen to Robinson’s character give advice about as good as Steve Harvey does on his TV show.
Kurt Russell’s son Wyatt shows up. Now, he was one of the only things I liked in Everybody Wants Some!! He played the philosophic pothead pitcher. He was good as the dim-witted football star in 22 Jump Street. In this, he’s awful. His hair looks unwashed, his face looks like he’s been hit with a mallet. He just doesn’t have a very good screen presence. And hey….as Jimmy Kimmel said on the Oscars recently, “Andrew Garfield lost 40 pounds for his role. That’s something every actress does for every role.”
The point being, if it’s always so important to comment on what women look like, I’m going to pile it on Wyatt Russell. He’s just ugly, and unlikable on screen. I’m hoping a few years go by before I ever have to endure watching him again.
All the characters in this were dumb caricatures and not the least bit realistic. The movie was full of sitcom type scenarios. And it’s not like it needed to be a John Hughes or Robert Altman movie, but….even Anna Kendrick’s other wedding movie — Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates — was better (and that wasn’t very good),
This gets 0 stars out of 5, and I’m being generous.