Table 19 – Film Review by Emily Elphinstone
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Writers: Jay Duplass (screenplay), Mark Duplass (screenplay)
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson
There are infinite possibilities for humour at a wedding: Unlikely characters thrown together; high emotion; free booze; expectations of ‘the perfect day,’ elaborate cake and all that. But despite this opportunity, and the calibre of its ensemble cast, Table 19 still manages to fall flat.
Well away from the bridal party; table 19 is where misfit guests are seated, who should have refused the invitation, ‘but not before buying something off the registry.’ This includes Stephen Merchant as an oddball cousin on day-release from prison, Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson as a bickering couple who do business with the bride’s father, June Squib as the childhood nanny, and Tony Revolori (best known for The Grand Budapest Hotel) as an awkward teenager in search of love. Not only should they have refused the invite; it is unclear why they were invited at all. This sad fact is highlighted by the presence of former Maid of Honour Elouise (Anna Kendrick), unceremoniously downgraded after being dumped by the bride’s brother (and best man) Teddy, played by Wyatt Russell.
Table 19 falls down primarily in the story’s stilted construction. Written by Jay and Mark Duplass, the guests develop all too suddenly from uncomfortable strangers to band of brothers, smoking joints in Nanny Jo’s hotel room. Each supposed twist is also announced by characters rather than being revealed through the action; and with an ever-changing mood, there is little time to catch up with the intended feeling toward characters (Russell’s conflicted surfer dude in particular) before everything is neatly wrapped up.
This confused tone is not helped by largely one dimensional characters (though Merchant still manages rare moments of natural brilliance,) which leaves little room for the multi-talented cast. The one saving grace is Anna Kendrick, who manages to bring her awkward charm and a realistic vulnerability to the role of Elouise – despite being trapped in what feels like an overdone ‘wronged woman’ role. Without her, Table 19 might well have been unwatchable. Ultimately, though it features an impressive cast, this confused tragedy comedy fails to deliver any big laughs. Despite brief moments of genuine feeling and humour, it creates a patchwork of too many stilted ideas to feel satisfying.