Review: The Wedding Ringer

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Wedding Ringer’: Critics say ‘I don’t’ to Kevin Hart comedy.

The end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 have been kinda rough for Kevin Hart. The first version of the script for ”The Wedding Ringer,” a new comedy about a friendless schlub who rents a best man for his big day, was written back in 2002 – a fact that partly accounts for the whiff of stale leftovers that hangs over the movie from start to finish.”The Wedding Ringer” is “Wedding Crashers Redux,” a “Hangover Lite” that softens manic funny man Kevin Hart’s persona into something more sentimental than abrasive.[(L to R) Reggie (Affion Crockett), Kip (Alan Ritchson) , Lurch (Jorge Garcia), Bronstein “Dan Gill”, Jimmy (Kevin Hart), Doug (Josh Gad), Endo (Aaron Takahashi), and Fitzgibbons (Colin Kane) in Screen Gems’ THE WEDDING RINGER.]] (L to R) Reggie (Affiom Crockett), Kip (Alan Ritchson) , Lurch (Jorge Garcia), Bronstein “Dan Gill”, Jimmy (Kevin Hart), Doug (Josh Gad), Endo (Aaron Takahashi), and Fitzgibbons (Colin Kane) in Screen Gems’ THE WEDDING RINGER.

In December, a leaked email thread revealed that he’d allegedly asked to be paid additional money beyond his $3 million salary to tweet about an upcoming movie; “I’m not saying he’s a whore,” a studio exec reportedly wrote, “but he’s a whore.” (“Knowing your self worth is extremely important,” Hart wrote on Instagram after the email was published. “I OWN MY BRAND….I MAKE SMART DECISIONS FOR MY BRAND.”) The jokes he made while presenting at last week’s Golden Globes—one about how animated filmmakers have imaginations “fueled by weed,” one about how he wasn’t going to promote his new movie from the stage…before he promoted his new movie from the stage—both bombed, loudly. Several films have indeed been there, done that – or variations of that – in the 12 years since, including ”Bridesmaids” and ”The Hangover,” which all but redefined the pre-marriage debauchery sub-genre.

The Times’ Betsy Sharkey says, “there is considerable comic chemistry between the high-octane Kevin Hart and the energy-conserving Josh Gad,” which is fortunate because the rest of the film is pretty ho-hum. And the aforementioned movie, which Hart will undoubtedly promote early and often on Saturday Night Live as well, is earning dismal reviews and less than impressive box office—especially compared to the comedian’s last January release. (Ride Along made $14.4 million on Jan. 17 alone last year; it earned $41.5 million its first weekend in total, making it the strongest January opening ever until the blockbuster success of this weekend’s American Sniper. He doesn’t have a best man! “And the coolest thing about watching this movie with audiences is they are dying, they are laughing so hard, but you also get a sense of audiences that they feel for these guys, they care about these guys and their rooting for these guys,” said Gad. “Yes! In addition to “The Wedding Ringer,” out this weekend, he already has two more films slated for release this year: “Get Hard,” opposite Will Ferrell and “Ride Along 2,” the sequel to the blockbuster film released one year ago.

It’s based on “a crazy conceit, and Hart tackles it with his signature style, a kind of comic scatting delivered at lightning speed,” Sharkey says. “Watching him sweet-talk his way out of one dilemma after another offers a little redemption. I remember as a baby, about two hours old, going “Waagggaaah” into the microphone and everyone was on the floor laughing and that’s when I knew,” said Hart. An odd-couple bromance spiked with gross-out humor of a mostly unimaginative sort, [the film] largely fails to accomplish its most basic mission: making us laugh.” The “rather obvious lesson,” Frosch says, “is that in the age of Judd Apatow and smarter raunch, it takes more than fat dudes, penis jokes and dogs with wandering tongues to make us guffaw in spite of ourselves. Soon enough, he’s employing professional best man Jimmy Callahan (Hart) and a rag-tag team of groomsmen, each of whom is an ostensibly yuk-worthy ”type”: the Fat Guy (played by Jorge Garcia of ”Lost” fame), the Asian (Aaron Takahashi), the Redneck, the Beefcake (with a stutter – even funnier!), etc., etc. As Doug and his homies-for-hire get acquainted, we’re treated to a variety of gags, including a boy getting hit in the gut with a baseball and a man breaking his own arm for show, as well as jokes about rape, child molestation and testicular deformities.

It came about, he says, after receiving a phone call from someone he knew back in high school who called to ask him to be a part of his wedding party. Unless your idea of the ultimate screen comedy is to witness how many different ways a fat guy can fall down in one film, you’re probably better off breaking off this engagement.” Any takers out there? Tonight’s guest is “Chandelier” chanteuse Sia—a singer/songwriter who’s taken to hiding her face in public in recent years. (Even though, er, it’s not that hard to find out what she actually looks like.) Gimmicky as that may be, her camera-shyness leads to visually-striking live performances—and we know already that tonight’s will feature Maddie Ziegler, the pint-sized Mini-Sia who’s performed as the singer’s avatar in her “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart” videos.

Even a bachelor party set piece in which the term ”service dog” is given stomach-turning new meaning (peanut butter lovers, be warned) feels half-hearted and half-thought-out; you giggle because of the situation’s bullying perversity, not because the execution is actually funny. Joining Hart and Gad in this laugh-out-loud comedy are Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting as Doug’s bride-to-be, the spoiled Gretchen Palmer, Ken Howard, Cloris Leachman, Jenifer Lewis, Mimi Rogers and Olivia Thirlby. Gad (who played a sex addict in ”Thanks for Sharing”) isn’t given much to do except look dim and dejected, the neutered straight man to Hart’s neutered real-life cartoon. Jimmy proceeds to hire a motley crew that includes a stammering stripper, an ex-con, a TSA agent (Affion Crockett) and a Roto-Rooter man (Jorge Garcia).

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