The Wedding Ringer

I wonder if people like Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart) exist in real life. Jimmy is a person whose job has him pretending to be the best man of men getting married who don’t have someone in their own lives they can get to fill that position. He’s “rent-a-friend,” but only for wedding time. After that, he’s gone and on to the next job. You’re not making a new best friend by hiring his services; you’re getting someone to play that role for a weekend or so. Jimmy makes this very clear.

So, of course, you can kind of guess where the plot’s going when our protagonist, Doug Harris (Josh Gad), hires Jimmy and his associates in order to perform not only the role of his best man, but also all of the groomsman. Doug doesn’t have any friends of his own, so he needs what is described as the “Golden Tux” package, which has never before been pulled off. Also, it’s $50,000. Most of the film then sees Jimmy and his colleagues — a random bunch of guys — either getting into their roles or goofing off with Doug.

When The Wedding Ringer works, it’s largely because Kevin Hart — who isn’t our protagonist but is the “lead,” or at least the person we’re supposed to be focused on most of the time — and Josh Gad are both funny people who also work very well in tandem. We know Kevin Hart is funny, and we know Josh Gad is funny, but the two have a surprising amount of bromantic chemistry together and it’s enjoyable to watch them play off one another. We’ll never know how much of the film was adlibbed — and it doesn’t feel like a lot — but their comedic timing and quick wits are both on display here.

What’s perhaps most surprising about The Wedding Ringer is that there’s a decent amount of heart — no pun intended — found within the picture. By the time when Jimmy is making fun of his clients before realizing that he’s not really that much different from them, you realize that the film actually has a moral core and a point, even if it’s often hidden behind crude and profane jokes.

Yes, this isn’t a comedy for the children, or for those who are easily offended. It’s not the meanest comedy out there by any stretch of the imagination, but I could see it getting some people’s knickers in a twist. And when the comedy doesn’t work, it seems to go on forever. There are a lot of montages that simply aren’t that funny, as well as specific segments that just go on and on past the point of humor. Of course, that’s a “your mileage may vary” type of deal; if you find them funny to begin with you’re going to want even more than what’s presented.

It’s ultimately pretty predictable, and it’s not as funny as you’d hope given its 100-minute running time, but you can do well worse when it comes to comedies — or just movies in general — and that it works as a moderately entertaining film that comes out in January is something we should be praising. No, it’s not really “good,” but it’s also not particularly bad and if you have to go see something, and you need something R-rated, it’ll pass the time well enough.

Something I do have to wonder is how actors like Olivia Thirlby and Mimi Rogers found their way into this production. They’re not in the film a whole lot, and only Thirlby has any real purpose — she suspects something’s up from the get-go when it comes to Doug’s new “friends” — but, man, it’s weird seeing genuinely good actors waste their time. Meanwhile, I’ve already praised Hart and Gad for being quite funny. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting gets some laughs in a couple of surprisingly profane outbursts, and there are too many “groomsman” to mention, although they all get a scene or two to be somewhat funny.

The Wedding Ringer is a perfectly serviceable piece of comedic entertainment. It’ll pass the time well enough if you’re looking for a new R-rated comedy to go see. Is it worth the theatrical price of admission? Probably not, but you’re not likely to feel bored if you see it. Kevin Hart and Josh Gad work really well together, and if it does a lot of money, I wouldn’t be surprised — or even very disappointed — if a sequel is made. The Wedding Ringer is decent enough.

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