Who would have thought Kevin Hart could be so likeable?
If the plot of The Wedding Ringer sounds familiar that's because it is, only last time it was called I Love you, Man.In the latter a successful nice guy, played by Paul Rudd, has to rope in a stranger, played by Jason Segal, to be his best man because he has no friends. In the The Wedding Ringer a successful nice guy, played by Josh Gad, hires professional best man Kevin Hart because he has also no friends. Needless to say, despite Hart's insistence that it's just a professional relationship, the two will eventually bond over their shared experiences and become genuine friends.It's the predictability of the plot that ultimately lets down The Wedding Ringer which, in most other respects, is a perfectly enjoyable comedy. The film actually has some genuine heart, aside from Kevin, who is considerably less annoying than he was in Ride Along. It's a shame the film felt the need to go for gross-out comedy as well, because it's rather sweet in its intentions and despite the obvious nature of the plot twist, the ending is emotionally rewarding.
It's probably fair to say that no one could expect a great deal of originality from a film called The Wedding Ringer; as the title immediately reminds the audience of The Wedding Singer, a rare example of a decent Adam Sandler movie. The plot also lifts merrily from films such as Wedding Crashers, The Wedding Planner, Father of the Bride and Bachelor Party, as well as the aforementioned I Love You, Man. However, The Wedding Ringer does at least try to address the fact that people have less real friends these days, as opposed to cyber ones on Facebook.
The screenplay is by Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender, who previously wrote The Break-Up, and centres on orphan Doug (Josh Gad) who is a successful tax account about to marry Gretchen, played by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting from The Big Bang Theory. Despite being a nice guy, Doug has no friends and has made up a best man called 'Bic Mitchum', who is a priest in the military. To make matters worse, he has also made up seven groomsmen with equally unusual names and backgrounds.
The wedding planner realises Doug is lying and puts him in touch with Jimmy, played by Kevin Hart, who is a professional best man. Jimmy provides various best man services involving different levels of complexity and deception but in Doug's case he has to not only create Bic but also the find seven groomsmen, all within two weeks. A job this difficult is called a 'Golden Tux', the film's original title, and despite Jimmy thinking it's impossible he takes the job on - for a sizeable fee.
The Wedding Ringer is a funny and surprisingly sweet movie that is let down by a predictable plot.
The film draws most of its comic set pieces from Jimmy's attempts to fabricate a history between Doug and the fictitious Bic, as well as locate and tutor the seven fake groomsmen. There are some great jokes during these scenes, whilst the gross-out moments are restricted to the obligatory bachelor party. The film also deliberately references other films including E.T., The Usual Suspects and Father of the Bride, whilst the presence of Jorge Garcia as one of the fake groomsmen prompts an obvious Lost gag at the end.
The supporting cast is good, with the seven fake groomsmen all getting plenty of laughs and Ignacio Serrichio having fun as the impossibly gay hispanic wedding planner Edmundo. Olivia Thirlby plays Gretchen's sister, who immediately suspects there's something suspicious about 'Bic', whilst Mimi Rodgers and Ken Howard play Gretchen's parents. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting is left with a rather thankless role as the self-centred Gretchen, who is clearly too attractive for the overweight Doug from the very beginning.
Ultimately the film revolves around the growing relationship between Doug and Jimmy, playing off the different physical attributes of Gad and the diminutive Hart. They handle the set pieces well, with Hart doing his usual fast-talking schtick but also proving surprisingly adept at the more more emotional moments. Gad meanwhile gets a chance to show that he moves well for a large man and, in case you hadn't seen Frozen, that he can sing.
So as long as you're not expecting anything too original, The Wedding Ringer could make an enjoyable date movie; which is certainly what Sony Pictures are hoping. It's definitely more enjoyable than its main competition at the moment, the awful Fifty Shades of Grey, but The Wedding Ringer will probably fare better on home video.
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