Posted February 9, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews

The Wedding Ringer Review


Jeremy Garelick’s directorial debut The Wedding Ringer tells the story of likeable but socially awkward Doug Harris (Josh Gad) who realises that he might have trouble finding a best man two weeks before his wedding to Gretchen (The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), a woman he believes to be way out of his league. Doug’s dilemma stems less from being a “loser/loner” (the writers’ words, not mine) than from his nomadic childhood and subsequent workaholic lifestyle. The result is the same though: no friends. With the big day drawing near, a panicky Doug seeks out Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), a best man for hire. Together they set out to achieve what Jimmy initially rejects as impossible: the so-called “Golden Tux” – finding seven groomsmen to go with Gretchen’s sizeable entourage of bridesmaids. What follows is the casting of several odd-looking dudes, bonding exercises disguised as rehearsals and football-games-turned-mudfights, an overlong, far too loud and crude bachelor party (with more mudfights – or is it chocolate? – this time with women) and the inevitable conclusion that relationships are only worth it if they are real.

The Wedding Ringer’s premise is quite depressing: a lot of men in the world (or in the US anyway) simply don’t have any close friends. According to Jimmy, the average American’s number of “real friends” has dropped from three to two over the past twenty years. Everyone works too much, no one has time to nurture meaningful relationships anymore. Jimmy, who can make quite a nice living out of providing them with best man services, has seen so many sorry creatures in his line of work that he has lost the sense of what it’s all for. Or perhaps he is just a “loner” himself, having created a “line” in his business relationships that cannot be crossed: as soon as the wedding is over, he will be out the door. No friendships past pay day. If this were a Romcom, it would be classic. However, in this set-up, Jimmy’s “line” seems as contrived as Doug’s predicament.

The Wedding Ringer features a (very) few good laughs, one of them a neat little LOST reference courtesy of Jorge Garcia who plays one of the groomsmen. The two leads manage to give their parts as much dignity and likeability as Garelick and Jay Lavender’s script allows – which, obviously, isn’t always the object. This is, after all, somewhat of an overlong stag night and humiliation is part of the package. However, the budding bromance between the groomsmen and particularly Jimmy and Doug is believable enough, albeit underexplored and inconclusive. The film is too convoluted and preoccupied with unfunny jokes to devote a satisfying amount of time to the few quiet, heartfelt moments that afford glimpses of its mostly wasted potential. Where they occur, they are immediately swept away by the inevitable crude and overdone series of gags that follow, as if the writers couldn’t quite bear the emotionality. Then again that may just what guys are like – or what the writers think guys are like. Not to mention what they seem to think women are like, namely mostly decorative or horrible, definitely pretty shallow – Doug’s fiancé Gretchen being the prime example. A delightful Olivia Thirlby is sadly wasted as Gretchen’s sister, the only woman in the film who somewhat resembles a rounded character.

As an irreverent stab at a million-dollar wedding industry filled with shady characters and Bridezillas, The Wedding Ringer could almost work. The bromance between a couple of utterly improbable characters is quite enjoyable, but not in those moments where the film descends into distasteful mayhem. Many of the gags are so overblown that the film could be classed as a farce. However, that probably wasn’t the plan. It could be a cartoon then, if only the jokes were funnier. That’s one of The Wedding Ringer’s main problems: it settles for doing too many things in a mediocre way rather than concentrating on less and doing it well.

On a night out with popcorn, good friends, and perhaps a few drinks, when nothing else is on, you could do worse. Given the competition this year, however, The Wedding Ringer might just find itself struggling to make its mark.

Anne Korn