We’ve all been there. You’re at a wedding where you don’t know the bride and groom well enough to be at a primo table, so you get stuck at the random table. That’s the premise of Table 19, but is this a table at which you’ll enjoy being stuck?
Eloise (Anna Kendrick) was the intended maid of honor in the upcoming wedding of her oldest friend, Francie (Rya Meyers). However, when the best man – and Francie’s brother – Teddy (Wyatt Russell) dumped Eloise – by text, no less – the maid of honor became the ex-maid of honor. She was replaced in the wedding party by Teddy’s old/current girlfriend, Nikki (Amanda Crew). Eloise, however, still RSVPs to the wedding and upon arriving, finds out she’s been assigned to the dreaded Table 19 – where all the rejects have been seated. Eloise knows this, because she helped Francie set up the table assignments. Joining Eloise at this table are: Jerry (Craig Robinson) and Bina Kepp (Lisa Kudrow), business acquaintances of the family; Renzo (Tony Revolori), a teenager desperately looking for love; Jo (June Squibb), Francie and Teddy’s former nanny; and Walter (Stephen Merchant), a distant cousin who is on a weekend pass from prison. Hilarity ensues in spurts as these disparate people get to know each other and tell their tales. Meanwhile, Eloise tries to decide if she’s over Teddy or pining for the past.
Directed by Jeffrey Blitz, who shares a writing credit with the usually sound Jay and Mark Duplass, Table 19 has a fantastic cast and some solid laughs throughout. However, it is a strange mix of a straight ahead comedy and an indie drama and the mix doesn’t quite sit right. First off, the premise makes little sense. What wedding have you ever been to where the bride’s maid of honor automatically has to be whoever the best man or her brother is dating? The movie may have been more interesting if Francie had kept Eloise in the wedding party. The biggest problem I had with the film, though, was that all the characters’ plots wrap up far too easily and in the case of Eloise, it’s an incredibly sappy ending that doesn’t feel earned at all. It’s a shame too, because the cast is great, but they’re not given a whole lot to do. There are plenty of laughs, but once the drama starts, characters like Merchant’s Walter or Revolori’s Renzo feel out of place. I’ll see Kendrick in anything and she does great work here, but it’s not enough to save the film. I’m also surprised at the Duplass Brothers, who usually bring it and deliver, but it’s half a victory here.
Overall, you can probably skip Table 19. When it’s funny, it’s very funny, but it’s all in service to a story that doesn’t really work.