Director: Jeremy Garelick
Screenplay: Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender
Cast: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting
Running Length: 101 minutes
Synopsis: Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is a loveable but socially awkward groom-to-be with a problem: he has no best man. With less than two weeks to go until he marries the girl of his dreams (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), Doug is referred to Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), owner and CEO of Best Man, Inc., a company that provides flattering best men for socially challenged guys in need. What ensues is a hilarious wedding charade as they try to pull off the big con, and an unexpected budding bromance between Doug and his fake best man Jimmy.
Review: It wouldn’t be too far off the mark to call this movie “Best Men”, since this project was probably greenlit off the success of Bridesmaids (to be fair, director Jeremy Garelick started work on the screenplay together with Jay Lavender more than a decade ago). The concept is not new – see Wedding Crashers and I Love You, Man – and the jokes are for the most part rather predictable and uninspired, but what saves the movie is casting Kevin Hart in the lead role, and the chemistry he shares with Josh Gad.
The first reel of The Wedding Ringer is about as insipid as it gets, with virtually no plot development and very few laughs. Fortunately, things improve quite a bit in the subsequent reels, as Kevin Hart hits his stride and the bromance between him and Gad develops. It’s a believable pairing, and surprisingly can be quite touching at times. Although Gad is a good enough foil to Hart, this is Hart’s movie through and through. In the best scenes, Kevin Hart manages to channel top comedic talents like Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams with his motor mouth and comedic timing, and since this is technically his first leading role it does bode well for his future in the movie industry. The rest of the ensemble cast are not particularly memorable, and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting is particularly underused, given that she’s quite the established comedic actor herself.
Crude sight gags and humour are now almost gold standards in R-rated comedies, and this is no different in The Wedding Ringer. It is actually quite tame compared to some of the other comedies in the same rating band, and thankfully doesn’t go out of its way to gross out audiences. There are moments that don’t work – the entire football match with Doug’s future father in law is overlong and pointless, for example – but The Wedding Ringer does serve up a good number of belly laughs (and a great parting shot for those familiar with Jorge Garcia’s body of work). It may be a flawed comedy, but in awards season it’s actually pretty astute counterprogramming, and manages to be an entertaining enough diversion.
Rating: * * ½ (out of four stars)