Review: Table 19

Anna Kendrick deserves better than showing up to this flailing wedding farce. The same goes for her squandered co-stars.

Weddings can be a fraught business, but apparently the biggest mortification possible, beyond a runaway bride or no-show groom, is turning up as a guest only to find yourself stuck with a ragtag bunch of misfits in the room’s furthest flung corner from the bridal party.

At least that’s the fairly flimsy premise of underwhelming rom-com Table 19, directed by Jeffrey Blitz, best known for helming fascinating doco Spellbound and several episodes of the US version of The Office.

Almost as if willing critics to take a pot shot, it opens with star Anna Kendrick’s Eloise fretting over whether to attend or not, first marking no before crossing that out and scoring yes, then setting fire to, blowing out and, somewhat unbelievably, mailing off the invite in that partially charred state.

It’s hard not to feel that Kendrick, a talented young actor with a gift for both comedy and drama who also appeared in Blitz’ dramatic feature debut Rocket Science, should have stayed well away. As for her character, the fact Eloise has been so rudely demoted from her role as maid of honour by her oldest fiend and cast to the corner following her text dumping by the bride’s brother, the best man Teddy (Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt and Goldie Hawn), as unlikely as this scenario seems, makes it all the more bizarre she shows up.

Kendrick’s thankless task sees Eloise moping after Teddy’s longhaired dufus then distracted by Australian Thomas Cocquerel’s wedding crasher. Saddled on table 19 alongside her is a brace of similarly wasted talent including Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson as a bickering married couple, Nebraska’s June Squibb as the bride’s former nanny and The Grand Budapest Hotel’s breakout bellboy Tony Revolori, as somebody’s kid, attending instead of his prom for reasons that aren’t entirely clear in my mind, desperate to get his rocks off.

With very little to work with all round, original The Office star Stephen Merchant manages to make some ground with his inmate on weekend leave. Again, hard to imagine anyone actually inviting their incarcerated cousin, particularly as he’s in prison for stealing from the bride’s father.

Very little makes much sense here, shabbily written as it is by Transparent star Jay Duplass and his similarly acting, writing and directing brother Mark. It feels like the roughest of first drafts and nobody can save the atonal direction from Blitz.

The film never seems to know what it wants to be, a crass comedy packed with dick and shit jokes or a quirky, emotive indie. Flailing wildly between the two, it achieves neither, with strained gags and pratfalls thudding wincingly and the predictable cheese, as the tablemates shift from polite indifference towards one-for-all team-up besties, is hard to swallow, like stale wedding cake best avoided.

Stephen A Russell @SARussellwords