Table 19 review divorce yourself from this unfunny wedding comedy

Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow and Stephen Merchant are all wasted in an embarrassingly tone-deaf film filled with thin characters and bad writing

At weddings or at least at weddings in the movies theres that moment when the officiant says: If anyone knows of a reason to prevent this marriage, speak now or forever hold your peace. I only wish I could have been present when so many actors I admire said I do to this tone-deaf, embarrassing motion picture.

To be fair, there is a kernel of a good idea in Table 19. Its all set at a wedding, where beloved family and friends are close to the action at tables one, two and three. In the back, and close to the bathrooms, is the table of randoms, the guests invited out of social obligation who ought to have had the decency to send their regrets.

The group of losers include June Squibb (the brides former nanny), Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson (a bickering married couple who work in the same industry as the grooms father), Stephen Merchant (a space cadet cousin living in a halfway house), Tony Revolori (a horny and socially awkward high schooler urged by his mother to meet girls) and our heroine, played by Anna Kendrick. Kendricks Eloise is the oldest friend of the bride, but shes on the outs because she just broke up with the best man (also the brides brother, played by Wyatt Russell).

This awards season some have griped that they couldnt get into Fences, that it felt too much like theater. Table 19, by comparison, is a first draft to a one-act play that never should have been let out of its workshopping class. After the unnatural way it plops this gruesome group in their social Siberia, it goes from (alleged) comedy to serious drama with all the subtlety of a 10-year-old playing Mario Kart.


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Before weve had a chance to get to know and like this crew (remember: they are either oddballs or have a stick up their rears) they are back up in June Squibbs hotel room smoking grass and really bonding. Soon they break off into smaller groups and have heart-to-heart chats as they walk the grounds while party revelers dance to 80s music. Imagine The Breakfast Club, but where everyone had the freedom to go to their rooms and watch Chopped instead of baring their souls to strangers.

Moreover, none of this heavy talking bears any resemblance to real life. Revoloris hormonally confused come-ons are meant to be charming (and his delivery is fine) but what, really, is this character? Is he meant to be mentally challenged? A proto sex offender? The same phony quality goes for Stephen Merchant, who hovers around like a goon and makes silly faces. Since neither character has any depth, the director, Jeremy Blitz, has them both fall down a lot for a cheap gag.

That doesnt mean that Merchant isnt funny. Hes incapable of not being funny, and his scenes (plus a running gag with Lisa Kudrow being mistaken for a cater-waiter) get the occasional laugh. But these very surface jokes are set against Kendricks angst and Squibbs melancholy. We quickly learn that one is pregnant and the other is dying and that Kudrow and Robinson havent made love in years.

Will getting stuck at table 19 somehow make this all right in the end? A moody montage set to knockoff Bon Iver-style echoey music ought to answer that question.

Id like to make it clear that there are the occasional bright spots in this movie. Anna Kendrick (whom I adored in another matrimonial film, the spectacular <a href=”” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) has great comedy timing and is always sympathetic. Craig Robinson, who gave a striking performance in last years Morris From America, is also quite likable. Thats why it is so, so frustrating to watch them drown in a shambles of a production like this. Go with your gut reaction: find an excuse to be busy when this invitation comes.

  • Table 19 is released in US cinemas on 3 March and in UK cinemas on 7 April

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