Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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Review: 'Table 19' is a cliche wedding comedy made fun by Anna Kendrick

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Table 19 is a wobbly comedy of awkwardness, in which everyone spills their romantic guts while everyone else listens, often in earshot for no reason. Nobody knows how to ask for a private moment in Jeffrey Blitz's amiable misfire about wedding misfits, RSVPs gone TMI.

Take Eloise McGarry, for example. Seconds after sitting as far as possible from the wedding party with a handful of other marginal guests, she's telling these strangers her love life story. Thankfully Eloise is played by Anna Kendrick. Plucky hurt always looks good on her.

Eloise was supposed to be the maid of honor, but her best man-boyfriend Teddy (Wyatt Russell) broke up with her by text. Exactly why will be revealed later. Like much of Blitz's overwritten script it's a wincing idea Kendrick and her cast mates sort of pull off.

Before that reveal, Table 19 tosses around exposition like wedding rice. Everyone is assigned a personality trait that begins pathetic and winds up relatively okay, in an upbeat indie fashion. Table 19 tries putting a Sundance spin on familiar wedding comedy cliches that seldom lifts the material.

We've seen variations on these characters before: An unhappily married couple (Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson) overshare their issues with strangers. A virgin (Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel) is determined to not leave the wedding that way. The bride's former nanny (June Squibb) shares wisdom and her marijuana stash. A recently released convict (Stephen Merchant) is plainly weird but sweetly so.

Blitz obviously wishes to poke fun at wedding movies yet Table 19 stacks so many staples — the '80s cover band, Eloise's dashing distraction, a wedding cake fiasco, yada, yada — that he appears more to emulate them. But the movie is pleasant enough thanks to Kendrick and co-stars, especially Merchant's daft mannerisms and Squibb's matronly spunk. It's solely their attention to the project holding ours.

Contact Steve Persall at spersall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

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