Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Movie Review #579: "Table 19" (2017)

Movie"Table 19"
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
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Eloise (Anna Kendrick) is about to attend the wedding of her oldest friend Francie and was supposed to be her maid of honor. Unfortunately, El has just gotten dumped by her boyfriend, who is also Francie's brother/best man, so she is stepping down as maid of honor, but will still attend the wedding. Because of the breakup, El has been demoted from table 1 to table 19 with the rest of the people who "should have known better to RSVP with regrets, but not before sending a nice gift from the registry."

"Table 19" is directed by Jeffrey Blitz and is written by Jay and Mark Duplass. It stars Anna Kendrick as Eloise, who is attending the wedding of her oldest friend Francie, played by Rya Meyers. She was supposed to be her maid of honor, but after a breakup with the Francie's brother Teddy, played by Wyatt Russell, El gets stuck at table 19, which is reserved for those who should have declined the invitation and are far removed from Francie's life. Also making up the rest of the cast of characters at the oddball-infested table 19 are Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow, who play diner owners and married couple Jerry and Bina Kepp, Stephen Merchant as Walter, June Squibb, who plays Francie's very first nanny named Jo, and Tony Revolori, who plays Renzo, a junior in high school.

With such a low critic and audience rating, we must say we found ourselves surprised that "Table 19" starts off well enough. It seems like the film is going to be this awkward comedy where an eclectic mix of unwanted wedding guests possibly find acceptance with each other and make their own fun out of a shitty situation. Through the first act, we found some giggles and chuckles here and there as Stephen Merchant's character Walter tries to hide the fact he is out on parole as he regularly and poorly lies about what he does. This is really the only constantly funny running gag throughout the entire movie. Other jokes, like Tony Revolori's terrible attempts to pick up other singles at the wedding in the worst way possible, don't ever work, not once. The rest of the table argues over whether or not they are a "good table" as Kendrick's Eloise gets a couple of uncomfortably comedic moments with her ex-boyfriend and meets a possibly new love interest. All of these attempts at humor and romance are put together in a mediocre but tolerable shell...for starters. It all begins harmlessly enough with a bit of light fun, chuggin' along its very short run time and is even moderately enjoyable...until it crashes head-on into a wall of drama and burns to a crisp instantly.

At this turning point, "Table 19" comes to a screeching halt, and whatever little bit fun we were having stopped instantly with the utterance of a few small but idiotic words. We can't get into the details of the melodrama that ensues, but the writers of this story just keep piling on the non-cohesive, completely arbitrary spectacles piece by piece, one thing after another. Every person in this story gets some bit of drama to deal with, and none of it fits into the story as anything other than made up, manufactured garbage. All of this crap signals feeble attempts at an emotional reaction from the audience. It all feels forced and inorganic, much like the chemistry between most of these characters, even the married couple played by Kudrow and Robinson. It continues to spiral further and further out of control with each passing minute, never redeeming itself in the slightest. We understand the need for a mix of comedy and drama in this type of situation, but the way these situations are handled goes off the rails to the point of no return. Because these instances don't fit within the context of the story, we found ourselves critiquing every little thing that happened in this 87 minute movie to the point where we got angry at everything that was going on. Characters are made to look desperate, stupid, insane, selfish, or all of these traits wrapped into one. It all culminates in an unearned, schmaltzy ending that made us roll our eyes so hard, we left them on the movie theater floor and are currently glad we never have to see another forced, underwhelming, letdown of a movie like this because we now have no eyes.

At the end of it all, though well acted by Anna Kendrick (even though she's playing the same character she always plays) and Stephen Merchant (who can just look at the camera weird and make the audience giggle), we did feel like we were moved in some small way......moved back decades of progress in storytelling, and moved out the door the minute this mostly-failure was over. We had high hopes for "Table 19" based on the caliber of its talent, but no amount of talent can overcome truly poor writing and uneven storytelling.


My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 3.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~19% (FITTING!)
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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