Many movies have been made about weddings both joyous and disastrous, but very few actually get them right, and Jeffrey Blitz’s indie dramedy, “Table 19,” is not one of them. A top-to-bottom misfire that feels like it was made by people who have never been to a real wedding in their lives, the film relies on the same tired clichés that you only see in the movies. As a result, “Table 19” reaches sitcom levels of absurdity at times and is almost completely devoid of any characters that behave like real people. It’s also a relatively uneventful and humorless affair, although one that’s made somewhat watchable by the casting of Anna Kendrick in the lead role.
The actress stars as Eloise McGarry, a recently single millennial who steps down as her best friend’s maid of honor after being dumped by the best man and brother of the bride, Teddy (Wyatt Russell), via text message. Refusing to let the breakup stand in the way of her attending the wedding reception as a regular guest, Eloise arrives to discover that she’s been seated at the “randoms” table in the back of the ballroom with a group of social misfits, including the bride’s childhood nanny Jo (June Squibb), married diner owners Jerry and Bina Kepp (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow), oddball cousin Walter (Stephen Merchant) and horny teenager Rezno (Tony Revolori). While Eloise isn’t comfortable having complete strangers poke around in her personal business, as the night progresses and secrets are revealed, she forms an unlikely friendship with her tablemates.
Written by Jay and Mark Duplass, “Table 19” lacks the authenticity that they usually bring to their projects. Apart from Eloise, whose own seating assignment doesn’t make sense as a close friend of the bride, it’s hard to believe that any of these people would ever be invited to this wedding. That’s a pretty big strike against the movie from the start, and although Blitz tries his best to mold the story into a sort of adult “Breakfast Club,” the characters are paper-thin and none of the subplots pay off, including a potential romance between Eloise and a hunky wedding crasher (Thomas Cocquerel) that goes nowhere. For a movie with such a barebones story, you’d think there would be more opportunity for character development, but the audience learns almost nothing about the other guests. Robinson and Kudrow’s bickering couple at least have something resembling an arc, but even their hasty resolution isn’t very satisfying.
Though Kendrick is always fun to watch thanks to her charming personality and comic timing, it’s difficult to see what attracted her to the film other than the chance to reunite with Blitz, who directed her in 2007’s “Rocket Science.” With the exception of a second-act revelation that pushes the story in an interesting direction, “Table 19” is a largely ineffective Sundance wannabe that’s unable to balance its pratfalls and dick jokes with the more serious moments. The potential for something better was certainly there, especially with the Duplass brothers involved, but the movie is so poorly executed (from the undercooked script to the overdependence on its gimmicky premise) that it fizzles out long before the wedding cake is served.