There are two brothers who are screenwriters in Hollywood, Jay and Mark Duplass. They wrote a bunch of indie films and even directed some of them. I’m not a fan. Mark Duplass sometimes can be funny in his acting roles, but I find their writing dull and emotionally unclear. So that’s my bias. When I saw this movie, I didn’t know that they had written it. But once I found out, it all added up.
Table 19 is a new comedy/drama, and takes place at a wedding at the titular Table 19, where all the randoms go. Here at the oddball table are the bride’s former nanny Jo (June Squibb), who lives by herself and never married. There’s also teen geeky kid Rezno (Tony Revolori from The Grand Budapest Hotel) whose overbearing mother (voice of queen of character acting Margo Martindale, although she never appears on screen) pushes him to find a girl.
Rounding things out are Walter (Stephen Merchant), a former ex-con who is constantly lying about his past to comedic effect, and caustic husband/wife diner owners Jerry and Bina Kepp (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow). So you have the old lady, the weird kid, the creepy guy, and the troubled married couple. And finally there’s Eloise, played by Anna Kendrick, who sure does act hard in this movie.
Eloise was formerly the maid of honor but things changed after she was dumped by the best man Teddy (Wyatt Russell), who is of course also the bride’s brother. So the movie starts more comedically and broadly, with this table of oddballs sussing each other out. And then Eloise, angry and bitter, lashes out and the movie takes a turn.
After that, it’s a series of increasingly eye rolling dramatic scenes peppered with such legitimately funny moments. Anna Kendrick cries a couple of times, although I never could believe her character’s motivations, because it was all very trite and broad. The “twists” in the movie aren’t necessarily predictable, but they weren’t interesting.
Stephen Merchant is probably incapable of not being unfunny, and he takes average material to become consistently funny. Rezno has a kind of sweetness to him, but his arc is ultimately pointless. The Kepps are the worst written characters, barely human, sadly depressing and then completely boring. That said, Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow aren’t to blame. They do their best.
I really do wonder what the expectations of this movie were; there is one very simple joke that the movie rides on, yet it spends far more time on trying to force you to feel something. To me though it felt more like whiplash. I was happy to see some of the comedic actors like Andy Daly (of the fantastic Review) or Maria Thayer merely allowed the chance to just be funny without trying to shove a bunch of sappy nonsense down our throats.
Certainly I don’t mind drama and comedy mixed; Groundhog Day is hilarious but it moves me deeply, and there are several such mixes on TV, like You’re the Worst, which are brilliant. But Table 19 is the most forgettable movie I’ve seen in a year.
Want to see Table 19 and judge for yourself? Click on the images below to buy your tickets now, and be sure to come back and tell us what you thought!