'The Wedding Ringer'
January is both the best of times and the worst of times for moviegoers. With the awards season in full swing, all those great little movies and tacky awards-bait epics slowly roll out to more cinemas in the hopes of making a little cash off of the hype. On the other hand, brand new releases in January are pretty much exclusively limited to the absolute worst movies the studios have held back to dump on the market when nobody’s looking. Such is the case with ‘The Wedding Ringer’, a comedy so unfunny and so horrible that it could only come out in January. Otherwise, everyone involved would simply be too embarrassed to acknowledge its existence.
Kevin Hart stars as the titular screenwriting contrivance, a guy named Jimmy who will be the bestest possible Best Man at any wedding for a fee. Deadbeat losers hire him when they don’t have a single friend or relative who will show up on their big day. You know, just like the sort of thing that would never possibly happen in the real world at any time. In this particular case, that deadbeat loser is Doug Harris (Josh Gad), a man without friends but with a beautiful fiancée (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) he’s going to marry in ten days. Because Doug doesn’t even have a single friend to be a groomsman, he requires Jimmy to pull his most elaborate wedding scam of all time: hiring a whole gang of friends and inventing an entire life story to pull it off.
Sounds impossible, right? But just the kind of impossible that will lead to all sorts of hijinks and montages. Plus, there’s no chance that Doug’s fiancée could possibly be a terrible person marrying him for money, and there’s even less of a chance that Doug and Jimmy could figure that out. And since Jimmy is so averse to making friends with clients that he doesn’t have any friends of his own, it’s probably unlikely that he could make his first friend in the unlikely Doug, right? Who knows? Well, you will within about five seconds. This is not exactly an unpredictable wild ride.
The script for ‘The Wedding Ringer’ has been circulating around Hollywood for a decade, at it shows (certainly in the pun title based on a 1998 Adam Sandler flick). From the first time he opens his mouth, it’s clear that the Ringer role was initially written for Vince Vaughn. As the movie plays out, you get to see knock-offs of other successful comedies from the last decade. There’s a little Apatow bromance here, a little crazy ‘Hangover’ partying gone wrong there, etc. It’s a Frankensteined script that tries so hard to be so many other movies that it loses sight of whatever the hell it was supposed to be in the first place.
The jokes are unfunny from start to finish, trotting out every easy gag imaginable and doubling down on awkward gay panic situations whenever possible. (If you think two men touching is as hilarious as it is terrifying, or that women are all evil shrews, then this movie is for you.) Presumably, the idea behind forcing Hart’s character to hire a flock of groomsman was to bring in a gang of comedians to improv some extra gags. Unfortunately, everyone must have said no, because these characters are all played by nondescript actors who add nothing. So, all of the “wacky bros hanging out” sequences have been condensed to montages in the hopes that a bunch of fast cutting will somehow manufacture comedy. It never does.
Now, it should be noted that the two leads of this absolutely abysmal comedy are funny and talented. Occasionally by accident, Gad or Hart will score a laugh simply because they can’t help it. However, whenever the movie is in the hands of the screenwriters or the director, the audience gets a series of clunking failures where all the jokes should be. Even the few comedians that got bribed into cameos, like Jeff Ross and Whitney Cummings, look completely embarrassed to be there. (Not to mention Cloris Leachman, who deserves so much better than to play a silent grandma who catches on fire.)
Beyond all the failed gags and sloppy storytelling, there are times when ‘The Wedding Ringer’ is even incompetent on a technical level, which should be impossible in a studio movie made on this scale. Most of the countless montages that make up the bulk of the running time are chopped up so quickly and awkwardly that you can’t even see what’s happening. Maybe that’s an editorial failure or maybe things were shot horribly wrong, but either way, it ensures that ‘The Wedding Ringer’ even fails on the level of profession competency.
In short, there’s absolutely nothing positive to say about this movie. It’s a complete and total disaster – and not even a fun disaster suited to ironic viewing. Nope, ‘The Wedding Ringer’ is a mess, and I’m certain that everyone involved already wishes it would disappear. That’s why it’s coming out in January and that’s why, after this weekend, you’ll never hear about it again. Be grateful. You don’t even want to watch this by accident. Even if you’re stuck on a plane with no other viewing option, staring blanking into the seat in front of you would be far more entertaining than suffering through ‘The Wedding Ringer’.