‘Table 19’ | Movie Review

“Table 19” at back of the room for a reason

 Table 19, a new film starring Anna Kendrick, can’t figure out what it wants to do. With such a promising cast and a few bright moments, it is clear that the movie could have been pretty good. Still, there’s so much going on that the elements that could make the movie better are sort of lost in the shuffle.

The movie stars Kendrick as Eloise, the ex-maid of honor who dropped out of the wedding of her oldest friend due to a sudden break-up with the bride’s brother, Teddy, played by Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn’s son, Wyatt. Once at the wedding party table, Eloise is now moved to a back table, filled with people you feel you have to invite but whom you hope won’t come. Eloise’s spot is taken by the new maid of honor, who also happens to be the “first” girlfriend Teddy had.

The guests at the back table introduce themselves to one another and us. The delightful June Squibb (Nebraska) is always lovely and bubbly, here playing the bride’s former nanny. A nephew of the bride’s English father is played by the incredibly funny (in other places) Stephen Merchant, an ex-con who has somehow been invited to the wedding even though he stole money from the bride’s father and is now living in a halfway house.  Representing marital angst are Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson, a feuding couple who own a diner, invited because they know the bride’s father.  Lastly is Tony Revolori of The Grand Budapest Hotel, who is hilarious in most roles but here does the best he can. Minor characters who could have been funnier are Becky Baker from HBO’s Girls who plays the boozy and divorced mother of the bride and Thomas Cocquerel, the too-good-to-be-true stranger who sweeps into the reception and gives everyone false hope.

The gags could be funnier, and some do stand out. Kudrow’s burgundy jacket matches those of the waiters and she is constantly mistaken for staff.  Merchant says he’s a successful businessman to everyone he meets. It’s only funny once or twice, however. I was glad they didn’t make Squibb another potty-mouthed old lady in the film; even her pot smoking is explained as necessary.

Kendrick, such a great actress from movies like Up in the Air and Into the Woods, is her usual charming-quirky-goofy-yet-graceful self and does the best she can with her character. She might have been better off if she’d been allowed to do more in the movie. There is a constant need to get back to the table of misfits who become a sort of pseudo-family during the very long reception. Merchant is gangly and awkward and it’s clear to audiences what a comic treasure he is. Squibb is always charming and adorable. Kudrow and Robinson work hard to convince us they are a couple, but neither of them play characters that we care too much about. I wish Revolori’s character had been more worried about meeting a nice girl than about having his first sexual experience.

All of the characters, other than Kendrick, are sort of one-dimensional and rather one-note. The actors do a great job with what they’ve got to work with, and there are some great moments and exchanges.  I was glad it was only 87 minutes long, although I WAS entertained and wanted to see it through until the end.

Some folks will like the movie, I’m sure.  I’d recommend giving it a chance to see what you think, but don’t spend money on a ticket. Wait for the DVD.

My grade: C-

Table 19 stars Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, June Squibb, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Merchant, Tony Revolori and Wyatt Russell and is rated PG-13 for some nudity, sexual content, and drug use.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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