The media buzz surrounding Kevin Hart’s new film The Wedding Ringer has been on full-tilt since last September. In fact, that buzz has been so consuming to the marketing team over at Sony Pictures that the junket day for The Wedding Ringer was initially scheduled to be on the same day as that of the Oscar-nominated Ava DuVernay-directed offering Selma back in December. Fortunately for them, that date was actually moved to one where reporters didn’t have to choose between attending one junket over the other. Smart thing too because, from what many of my colleagues are saying, The Wedding Ringer is full of pomp and fury, signifying not a damn thing.
But I’m not one to follow the crowd and had to see it for myself.
Starring Kevin Heart, Josh Gad and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (Big Bang Theory), the movie appears to be a hodge-podge of well-worn comedy formulas from the early 2000s that shoved Kevin Hart into the leading role at the last moment as elements of The Bridesmaids, The Hangover and even I Love You Man were baked into this pie of unfortunateness.
In addition to the more contemporary films The Wedding Ringer has obviously scavenged from, the “Black and White” buddy film that has existed in Hollywood for over 50 years starting with The Defiant Ones starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in 1958, followed by the “Black and White” comedy being perfected by Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in the 70s and 80s. With all that said, The Wedding Ringer had a lot to live up to, and, outside of a handful of moments, it just didn’t.
Kevin Hart plays the role of Jimmy Callahan aka Bic Mitchum, a "Best Man for Hire" who is called upon by a goofy and socially-inept man who's about to get married. The only problem is (you guessed it) he’s not very popular, doesn’t have any friends and has been lying to his fiancée the entire time. So he hires Bic, who in turn brings aboard a motley crew of carny folk to round out his wedding party.
In my opinion, everything about Kevin Hart says funny. From his stature, his enunciation of words, to his Napoleonic drive to be larger than life. Yes, he is funny in this film, but few others are. Though suspension of disbelief isn’t a prerequisite of enjoyment for most comedies, how the two characters overcame pre-existing societal boundaries between them was not flushed out to my satisfaction. I was constantly thinking ‘These two would not have bonded over such nebulous tomfoolery’. Well, not in those exact words, but you get the point. In addition, there just seems to be too many peripheral characters from which time and attempts were wasted in trying to squeeze jokes out of .
Affion Crockett could have been funnier, but he wasn’t. Josh Gad was very funny in some moments, but not enough. He also appeared to have some difficulty matching Hart’s energy at times throughout the film. Alan Ritchson as Kip was funny, but stuttering is such a comedy cliché that I felt bad even for laughing at it. Also, Jenifer Lewis was as sassy as ever, which is how she is in 90 percent of her roles, so, no surprise there. Veteran actor Ken Howard was funny at times, but the laughter was cheap and contrived. I felt as if his considerable talents were wasted. All and all, I would see this film again. However, I can’t in good conscience advise others to spend their money on it because I know my preferred brand of comedy isn’t the normal taste.
Many of the problems stemmed from lazy writing and directing, so both director Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender failed in these realms.
Overall I feel that The Wedding Ringer was average. It was funny, but not funny enough to spend over $20 dollars a head when considering ticket and concession prices.