Table 19: Unwanted Reservations and Responses

DATELINE:  Wedding Invitations

table 19

When some people complain that we don’t review enough comedies, we did not laugh last or longest. We went looking for something, anything, that bills itself as a comedy that was not totally tasteless and witless.

What we found was something called Table 19, directed by Jeffrey Blitz. The plot synopsis said it was about a wedding party reception where a group of misfits were all deliberately placed at one table, and found it was the best table to be at.  Hmmm.

That was hard enough to swallow, but the movie premise is that wedding tables are socially powerful seating arrangements. Those who are invited and not expected to show up are given the seats in the back row of the reception hall.

The cast is largely no big names but plenty of familiar faces, though June Squibb stands out as the elderly nanny. Also in the picture is impish Tony Revolori, on hand as an ethnic teenager. Lisa Kudrow is in a surprisingly small role, as is Margo Martindale.  Reliable Craig Robinson shows up too. They must have needed the money or the work.

One might suppose is the message of the movie has something to do with going where you are not wanted. If you are not really wanted at a wedding party, you should send your regrets. Of course, there would be no movie had that happened with these disparate and desperate characters.

The pieces don’t fit really. The reasons why these people were invited or who they are is a bit of a strain on credibility. Some of it does not work at all, making the weird chemistry force-fed to the audience. How the writer struggles to make it work.

One of the odd, unspoken angles is that the misfits are racial outcasts or abused minorities: a mixed marriage, a dark skinned Latino type, an elderly woman, and an ex-con nephew of someone important.

Demoted maid of honor, Anna Kendrick, put them together, and then was dumped out of the wedding party and wound up with them for reasons not believable.

It’s what passes as mindless comedy nowadays, and the filmmakers kept it under 90 minutes thankfully. There are no tacky bathroom jokes (some references) and no car chases. For that we were grateful.

However, we are still looking for a clever comedy.