Saturday 23 February 2019

Movie Review: Table 19 (2017)

A floundering comedy, Table 19 suffers from idea deficiencies and too quickly resorts to well-worn plot devices.

Eloise (Anna Kendrick) reluctantly accepts a wedding invitation from her best friend Francie, despite having recently suffered a bad break-up with Francie's brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell). At the reception Eloise finds herself on table 19 with other "randoms" placed in the room's furthest corner. Her tablemates are squabbling couple Jerry and Bina Kepp (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow), creepy guy Walter (Stephen Merchant), awkward high schooler Renzo (Tony Revolori) and the elderly Jo (June Squibb), Francie's nanny from childhood.

Eloise remains obsessed with Teddy, who is having a good time with girlfriend Nikki (Amanda Crew). But she is finally distracted by the attentions of the hunky Huck (Thomas Cocquerel), who never reveals his role at the reception. Bina is mistaken for a member of the serving staff, while her tensions with Jerry ramp up. Renzo makes no headway in attracting the attentions of any girl. Walter's odd behaviour intensifies, while Jo's wisdom helps her untangle the secrets at the table.

The premise of exploring the humorous stories of people who accept wedding invitations but should know better carries potential. But Table 19 maintains only brief momentum, and starts to fizzle early. The characters are uninteresting, their stories only good for a few laughs, and before long the film gets bogged down in predictable antics and stale arguments.

The screenplay by Jeffrey Blitz (with a story co-conceived by Mark and Jay Duplass) is devoid of edge, and Blitz's direction cannot add any punch. A cake is destroyed, pot is smoked, bad karaoke is performed, and Eloise finds every opportunity to embarrass herself.

Meanwhile Jerry and Bina carry on an exceptionally tired and circular argument. Renzo wanders in from a bad high school sex comedy, and Walter's weird antics are quickly explained away. Of course, everyone proves to be nice and warm-hearted and the group pulls together towards the requisite contrived happy ending.

Just like the guests, Table 19 should have just stayed away.

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