The Wedding Ringer isn’t going to be the best comedy of 2015, but it’s a fun, amusing distraction for those looking for a quick laugh.
As there always seems to be a lack of good ideas out of Hollywood, it’s amazing it’s taken a decade for a film to try to duplicate the success of Hitch [Blu-ray]. The surprise 2005 hit featured Will Smith’s smooth ladies’ man helping Kevin James land a woman far out of his league.
Enter Doug Harris (Josh Gad), who is less than 10 days away from getting to the woman of his dreams, Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). One catch though — Doug doesn’t have any groomsmen, let alone a best man to stand up with him.
With time running out, a desperate Doug enlists the aid of Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart, Top Five) a professional best man for hire. Aided by his assistant, Doris (the always enjoyable Jenifer Lewis), Jimmy has established a lucrative business for himself with a flawless reputation, but Doug presents the ultimate challenge of not just making sure everything goes smoothly from a best man perspective, but recruiting six other groomsmen.
Director/co-writer Jeremy Garelick and co-writer Jay Lavender’s premise is solid, but they’re not fully clear on their vision so the film occasionally goes all over the place. At times, it’s a straight up slightly crude guy comedy; then it shifts to a sweet date movie, but the constantly shifting tones makes the movie as a whole uneven. The tease of an attraction with Jimmy and Gretchen’s sister, Alison (Olivia Thirlby, Dredd [3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UltraViolet]) is woefully underdeveloped.
Fortunately, the film has enough going for it with Hart and Gad, who have unexpectedly terrific chemistry. Hart can be a bit much sometimes as his directors overemphasize his characters at the expense of his co-stars, who too often get placed in the role of spectators like the audience.
Here, Hart comes across as more comfortable in the lead role and not frantically trying to get the most out of every second of screen time.
Gad, most familiar to audiences as the voice of Olaf in Frozen [Blu-ray], makes for a solid sidekick with a likeable everyman bit of charisma that’s well utilized here. It helps that Gad is game for whatever from doing ‘The Dougie’ to more slapstick physical comedy. This is still Hart’s show, but Gad doesn’t get overshadowed by his higher-profile co-star.
Garelick and Lavender make sure to hit all the cliché elements of a wedding/buddy movie. We get the bizarrely perfectly choreographed dance, the unexpectedly competitive sports contest (with some cool cameos for longtime sports fans) and the wild bachelor party that doesn’t exactly go according to plan. And while the film suffers a bit from its predictability, it’s got enough heart to make up for those deficiencies.
You’re not going to see The Wedding Ringer on any Top 10 lists come December, but for a January comedy it’s got enough laughs to be worth your RSVP.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10