Actors: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting
Director: Jeremy Garelick
Format: Ultraviolet, NTSC
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: April 28, 2015
Run Time: 101 minutes
There may be a fairly good movie within The Wedding Ringer, but it also happens to be paired with several bad ones. There is nothing original about the individual elements of this first-quarter release, though the schizophrenic combination of these contradictory aspects borrowed from better films leads to an original mess of a movie. What could be pitched as Hitch meets I Love You, Man with Kevin Hart as a leading man, The Wedding Ringer must have sounded like a surefire hit, but the result feels like a Frankenstein creation born out of the creative cowardice of a studio board room.
One of the aspects of the film I found myself surprisingly endeared by was the bromantic relationship developed between the two leads, which is only made possible by the filmmaker’s willingness to allow each of these characters to be taken seriously. Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is a socially awkward groom with no male friends to make up his wedding party, and Jimmy Callahan (Hart) is an entrepreneur with a business lending himself out as the best man for weddings and special events. Typically one of these characters would be the supporting humor to the more relatable and understated lead, but The Wedding Ringer allows them both to become fully realized characters meant to be cared about rather than merely laughed at. If only for the relief of another performance from Hart as the loud-mouthed, scene-stealing supporting character, I found this change commendable.
If the film had focused on this relationship, it may have seemed a bit too similar to I Love You, Man, but the additions made are no less predictable while contradicting the sweeter aspects of the narrative. I’m sure sequences such as the bachelor party seemed a good idea to someone, though I can’t imagine it felt like the same movie as the filmmakers staged a peanut-butter hungry dog biting and yanking a prosthetic penis. The over-the-top raunchiness feels crammed into the narrative alongside the sensitive bonding of the two males, as does the contrived role of the superficial bride-to-be (played by “The Big Bang Theory” star Kelly Cuoco-Sweeting). The film even has a sequence with a football game against the father-in-law where a group of older men pummel the young groomsmen, as if that were an original idea.
If The Wedding Ringer were attempting to be just one thing, it may have been mildly memorable. Instead, it feels like a bromance, late-night comedy and a romantic comedy were chopped up and re-stitched together in a way that is altogether forgettable. Though I hope to see Hart play more sincere (and quieter) roles such as this in the future, I also hope for his sake that they exist in better screenplays. The DVD special features include a featurette and select-scene commentary from director Jeremy Garelick and star Josh Gad.
Entertainment Value: 7.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5.5/10
Historical Significance: 3/10
Special Features: 4.5/10