Every wedding has its table of randoms — those guests who’d be better suited in the Land of Misfit Toys. They don’t fit into the cliques established at other tables, such as the eligible singles, the iffy singles, the work friends, the kids table. And so these randoms often find themselves — as one character in the wedding-themed rom-com “Table 19” puts it — so close to the bathrooms that they can smell the toilets.
You might catch a similar odor wafting through the movie. Any air freshening comes courtesy of a comedic cast funny enough to prop up the formulaic girl-wants-boy-back story. Directed by Jeffrey Blitz (“Spellbound”) and written by the eccentric Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, “Table 19” has it hilarious moments, especially early on when it deftly pokes fun at wedding table hierarchy and how a nuptial setting can bring out the worst in people. But once the movie veers into its predictable third act, it’s as hard to swallow as the chicken at the wedding buffet.
It’s certainly not what you’d expect from the Duplass brothers, the fathers of the mumblecore movement. In a nutshell: Eloise (Anna Kendrick, charming, per usual) is the ex-maid of honor and ex-girlfriend of the best man (Wyatt Russell). Bad blood still brews but that’s no reason to miss the wedding of her childhood BFF, even if it means she’s exiled to the dreaded Table 19, the no-man’s land reserved for those with tangential connections to the bride and groom. Also seated there are bickering spouses (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), the bride’s former nanny (June Squibb, a riot, per usual), a teenage mama’s boy (Tony Revolori, the lobby boy from “Grand Budapest Hotel”) and a white-collar ex-con with big googly eyes (Stephen Merchant, who, along with Ricky Gervais, created “The Office” and “Extras.”) Humor ensues. Personal conflict arises. Unlikely bonds form. Redemption results. You know the drill.
There are worse casts to walk down the aisle with, and this one mines every bit of humor from a cliched script that rigidly builds toward a grand third-act gesture. A running gag involving Kudrow’s character’s attire goes the distance. Revolori’s excessive attachment to his “mothership” (voice of Margo Martindale) gets some laughs. And Merchant, who also co-stars in this week’s “Logan” as the mutant villain Caliban, shows why he is one of the masters of cringe comedy.
At one point, Kendrick’s character says into the bathroom mirror, “today will not suck.” That pretty much sums up the whole movie — it doesn’t take the cake. But it isn’t exactly memorable, either.
— Dana Barbuto may be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, Wyatt Russell, June Squibb, Stephen Merchant, Tony Revolori.
(PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, drug use, language and some brief nudity).