The Wedding Ringer Offers Great Duo, Meh Comedy
The Wedding Ringer
Review by Daniel Rester
The Wedding Ringer gives us a terrific comedic duo in the form of Kevin Hart and Josh Gad. Unfortunately the two are strapped with mediocre material that feels like leftovers from Wedding Crashers (2005) and I Love You, Man (2009) – both of which are much better films. Still, having two stars that play well off of each other is better than what a lot of January releases usually have to offer.
Hart plays Jimmy Callahan, a “best man for hire” for guys who are in need of a friend for their weddings. Gad plays Doug Harris, a likable but friend-less man who hires Jimmy for that reason. But Doug also needs seven groomsmen, so Jimmy sets out to pull off his biggest fake groomsman stunt yet.
Ringer has a stale air about it throughout, further emphasized by a constant bouncy and generic music score. Trying to shed the initial idiotic idea at its core, the film turns out many crazy situations that Jimmy and Doug get into with their groomsmen. The results are mostly clichéd hijinks, including a ridiculous bachelor party and a high-speed chase ending with a jump over a bridge; there is even a tired joke about a dog and peanut butter.
It’s expected to have unbelievable or silly situations in a comedy like this. And while some of them are quite funny (most notably a dancing scene), the situations drive the film and leave character development on the sidelines. Jimmy and Doug do bond and grow as people by the end, but it’s rare to find a conversation in the film that holds longer than a minute before going to something ridiculous.
Hart and Gad have energy and charisma to spare, and they actually supply their characters with some believability. Everyone else is strapped with one note to play for the most part. Alan Ritchson and Olivia Thirlby come off best in the supporting category, with Ritchson playing a stuttering buff guy and Thirlby playing the sister of Doug’s fiancé (who is played by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). I do really wish there was more to Thirlby’s character though as the actress has charm to spare.
Director Jeremy Garelick – who co-wrote the film with Jay Lavender – knows how to pace scenes well and gives a few of them vibrancy through quick-cutting. Yet a lot of “honest moments” Garelick and Lavender employ feel oddly false. Again, I feel this may be because the characters weren’t fleshed out as well as they could have been. The ending of the film is mostly satisfying, and the most honest scene in terms of emotion, but the film takes some rushed turns to get there – including a sudden (and almost misogynistic) change of character for Sweeting’s role.
Ringer isn’t a terrible comedy. It has its share of sharp moments and R-rated vulgarity that lands well, and Hart and Gad remain fun to watch throughout. Yet the movie is also obvious and predictable, and it throws in a few jokes that just try way too hard – including a guy with three testicles, a grandma getting caught on fire, etc. I would like to see Hart and Gad paired in something together again, but hopefully the material would be more up to their level unlike what we’re given here.
My Score: 2 out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: C).
MPAA Rating: R (for crude and sexual content, language throughout, some drug use and brief graphic nudity).
Runtime: 1 hour and 41 minutes.
U.S. Release Date: January 16th, 2014.