“Sock on put”
The writing team behind The Break-Up is back nine years later with their latest comedy The Wedding Ringer. While not a slog like their first feature—I found it painful at times—Jeremy Garelick (who also directs) and Jay Lavender‘s increased entertainment value unfortunately comes at the price of the whole being a complete mess. Jamming in as many comedy tropes as possible to create this genre Frankenstein’s monster, you’ll find yourself laughing at Wedding Crashers-level raunch one moment, wading through a flipped The Wedding Planner-esque plot full of career-driven speeches and second-guessing in love another, and being forced to endure an out-of-the-blue sequence of The Hangover absurdity the next. I can take a lot of nonsense, but don’t go adding a cartoonish car chase complete with impossible ramp trick when you’ve already steeped your film in reality.
Even if you look past the stupidity of a Roto-Rooter truck out-running a police car, the physics-bending notion that it could vault over a bridge gap thanks to a rough mound of gravel, or the fact that the owner of the vehicle (Jorge Garcia‘s Lurch) would be arrested and not the crippled, elderly driver who has no connection to it whatsoever (Robert Towers), it’s just not funny. The stunt takes you out of what had been a believable, albeit over-the-top, world wherein the groom (Josh Gad‘s Doug Harris) doesn’t even allow a stripper (Nicky Whelan‘s Nadia) to do anything his mind would construe as cheating. The filmmakers instead let a dog do the job in yet another out-there gag, but even that only earned a sideways glare as opposed to the car chase checking me out completely.
The movie had promise too—I was actually excited to see it. The idea of someone making a living by pretending to be a stranger’s Best Man is inspired and casting a comedian with Kevin Hart‘s charisma and manic excitement is a slam-dunk. His Jimmy Callahan has crafted a set of rules to ensure everything is purely of a business nature, embodying each role with professionalism and remaining busy enough to not notice his own solitary lifestyle until the script requires him to for its play at bromance poignancy. Gad’s Doug needing seven groomsmen in less than ten days also lends it a sense of urgency and supplies a reason for Jimmy to acquire a motley crew of eccentrics. To pull-off the “Golden Tux” he must be quick on his feet and hopeful no one screws anything up.
That’s obviously easier said than done when one of your actors (Aaron Takahashi‘s Endo) pulls down his pants to expose his third testicle as a party trick and another (Colin Kane‘s Fitzgibbons) just got out of jail and hopes to get laid. Add the bride’s (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting‘s Gretchen) younger sister (Olivia Thirlby‘s Alison) sniffing the BS as soon as Jimmy enters their family home in character as the manufactured Bic Mitchum and it becomes a race against time to say, “I do”. Or at least it should turn into one. Thinking that far ahead or crafting the screenplay to allow for a coherence of tone seems out of Garelick and Lavender’s grasp because they’d rather just move to each subsequent phase of the journey by jamming square pegs into round holes because the result tickles their funny bone.
Need the bride to turn into a bitch? Do it on a dime with no warning other than our assumption that the tired trope was a foregone conclusion anyway. Need added conflict by letting Thirlby question the ruse? Do it, then forget about it, and ultimately bring it back when it suits you because we’re moronic enough to let you and ignore her character being a one-dimensional pawn. You have to pounce on these avenues of conflict. Turn Gretchen into a mean girl early and add to Jimmy’s wavering conscience by having her be aware of the farce and okay with it to get the marriage done. Make Alison a pesky detective for the duration so Jimmy’s on his toes more than once before calling it a day. Silly comedies need more than a checklist of skits too.
There was potential to go absolutely, no-looking-back crazy and I’d have preferred that to this unsure hybrid. I thought they were going that direction after seeing the horribly Photoshopped pictures on Jimmy’s wall of past weddings because why else would you superimpose Hart’s head on stock images instead of staging real photos to give them authenticity? That was the opening to throw away all sense of reality, but they didn’t take it. The filmmakers would rather affix their cart to an insanely offensive series of events that lambasts gays, Jews, Blacks, Latinos, and more (sometimes simultaneously) in as lazy a way as possible. There’s a point where a “no one is safe” mentality becomes plain ol’ bigotry and The Wedding Ringer hits it—especially when it needs its central WASP family to bankroll every antic.
Not all is lost, though. A scene where Hart takes Gad to a wedding as a sort of dry run possesses all the life and fun I’d hoped the rest would deliver. The pair dances together without a care in the world and really puts the chemistry we know is going to test Jimmy’s resolve of cutting ties with his clients to the limits. Beyond that there’s little to truly enjoy. Cloris Leachman is completely wasted, an inspired two-hand touch game led by Ken Howard and Joe Namath undercooked, and the utter lack of sex a surprisingly welcome trait letting the film focus on Gad and Hart’s relationship over unnecessary flings while it also more than likely angers a target audience coming specifically for nudity. Like the “Golden Tux” itself, the movie simply has too many moving parts.
 Josh Gad stars as Doug Harris and Kevin Hart stars as Jimmy Callahan/Bic in Screen Gems’ The Wedding Ringer (2015). Photo credit by Matt Kennedy.
 The groomsmen from Screen Gems’ The Wedding Ringer (2015).
 Kevin Hart stars as Jimmy Callahan/Bic and Josh Gad stars as Doug Harris in Screen Gems’ The Wedding Ringer (2015). Photo credit by Matt Kennedy.