'Table 19' Review: A Well-Meaning Misfire

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'Table 19' Review: A Well-Meaning Misfire

The Hollywood Reporter” data-reactid=”14″>By Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter

Anna Kendrick</a> has a recent track record of being decisively better than the movies she’s in. Table 19, an innocuous but misguided mess written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz from a story by Mark and Jay Duplass, continues the trend.” data-reactid=”15″>The quickest-witted and most endearing of comic actresses, Anna Kendrick has a recent track record of being decisively better than the movies she’s in. Table 19, an innocuous but misguided mess written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz from a story by Mark and Jay Duplass, continues the trend.

Sundance</a> quirk, a studio comedy’s penchant for pratfalls and dick jokes, and unabashed John Hughes nostalgia, the film crowds its leading lady with a busy ensemble and too much plot. That’s a shame, since all we really want to do is watch Kendrick flirt, scheme, and talk her way into and out of trouble.” data-reactid=”16″>Mixing touchy-feely, sub-Sundance quirk, a studio comedy’s penchant for pratfalls and dick jokes, and unabashed John Hughes nostalgia, the film crowds its leading lady with a busy ensemble and too much plot. That’s a shame, since all we really want to do is watch Kendrick flirt, scheme, and talk her way into and out of trouble.

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Wyatt Russell</a>) breaks up with her — the actress is in full command of her gifts: she nails one-liners and emotions with equal precision, and reminds us what a first-rate physical performer she can be (by turns klutzy and graceful, but always in character). Alas, Table 19 is one of those comedies so enamored of its own elevator pitch — Eloise finds herself seated with the losers the newlyweds felt obligated to invite but hoped wouldn’t come — that it neglects to nurture its central figure; Kendrick is constantly forced to compete with the movie’s gimmick.” data-reactid=”18″>As Eloise, a maid-of-honor-turned-unwanted-guest at her best friend’s big fat Midwestern wedding — she’s demoted after the bride’s brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell) breaks up with her — the actress is in full command of her gifts: she nails one-liners and emotions with equal precision, and reminds us what a first-rate physical performer she can be (by turns klutzy and graceful, but always in character). Alas, Table 19 is one of those comedies so enamored of its own elevator pitch — Eloise finds herself seated with the losers the newlyweds felt obligated to invite but hoped wouldn’t come — that it neglects to nurture its central figure; Kendrick is constantly forced to compete with the movie’s gimmick.

Craig Robinson</a> and Lisa Kudrow); elderly busybody Jo (June Squibb), the bride’s childhood nanny; white-collar criminal Walter (Stephen Merchant), who’s just out of prison and not ready to talk about it; and desperately horny teen Renzo (The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori).” data-reactid=”19″>That gimmick comes in the form of the motley crew assigned, along with Eloise, to the titular table: bickering married diner owners Jerry and Bina (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow); elderly busybody Jo (June Squibb), the bride’s childhood nanny; white-collar criminal Walter (Stephen Merchant), who’s just out of prison and not ready to talk about it; and desperately horny teen Renzo (The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori).

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The Breakfast Club-style bonding with her table-mates.” data-reactid=”21″>Bitter about her place on the seating chart, and smarting at the sight of Teddy getting cozy with the replacement maid-of-honor (Amanda Crew), Eloise ditches her fellow pariahs to banter with dreamy Aussie wedding crasher Huck (Thomas Cocquerel). But when he sneaks off into the night, our heroine hunkers down for some The Breakfast Club-style bonding with her table-mates.

Helen Mirren</a>”) and a good gag or two (as an additional indignity, Bina’s outfit is identical to that of the wait staff), the filmmakers go for low-hanging fruit; any laughs inspired by the ever-adorable Squibb extolling the virtues of “dope” and pulling a pipe out of her purse could hardly be considered well-earned.” data-reactid=”22″>Unfortunately, those table-mates are (with the possible exception of Kudrow’s vividly unhappy Bina) comic stick figures who never amount to much more than the brief aforementioned character descriptions. That’s in no way the fault of the talented cast, all of whom hustle like consummate pros. But aside from a handful of amusing lines (including one about Googling “topless Helen Mirren”) and a good gag or two (as an additional indignity, Bina’s outfit is identical to that of the wait staff), the filmmakers go for low-hanging fruit; any laughs inspired by the ever-adorable Squibb extolling the virtues of “dope” and pulling a pipe out of her purse could hardly be considered well-earned.

Richard Linklater</a>’s Everybody Wants Some!!) is so distinctively shifty in the first two-thirds of Table 19 that a climactic twist feels unpersuasive. And, playing the boozy mother of the bride, the incomparable Becky Ann Baker (Lena Dunham’s mom on HBO’s Girls) does a spectacularly off-key rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” — complete with mic drop — that makes you wish the whole movie were about her.” data-reactid=”23″>Given the over-conceptualized, underwritten misfits at the film’s center, it’s no surprise that the two supporting players who excel here are on the fringes of the main action. Russell (who, as the pothead pitcher, practically sauntered away with Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!) is so distinctively shifty in the first two-thirds of Table 19 that a climactic twist feels unpersuasive. And, playing the boozy mother of the bride, the incomparable Becky Ann Baker (Lena Dunham’s mom on HBO’s Girls) does a spectacularly off-key rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” — complete with mic drop — that makes you wish the whole movie were about her.

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Blitz, who directed the delightful spelling bee doc Spellbound (2002) and the so-so indie Rocket Science (2007), also with Kendrick, doesn’t attempt much visually, nor does he give the material the kind of snap it could have used. Moreover, he struggles with the tonal shifts that accompany a big mid-story reveal and some final-act heart-to-hearts, too often resorting to folk rock on the soundtrack for emotional shortcuts.

Cyndi Lauper’s aching synth ballad “All Through the Night.”</a> Eloise holds Huck close, attempting to make Teddy jealous (and it works), but also giving in to the possibility of romance with her hunky new suitor. It’s a small, human moment, and one you wouldn’t find in a coarser, more industrially processed mainstream comedy. Table 19 may be a misfire, but at least it’s a hand-crafted misfire.” data-reactid=”26″>The filmmaker does pull off a lovely, refreshingly un-talky scene that finds Eloise and Huck dancing to the wedding band’s cover of Cyndi Lauper’s aching synth ballad “All Through the Night.” Eloise holds Huck close, attempting to make Teddy jealous (and it works), but also giving in to the possibility of romance with her hunky new suitor. It’s a small, human moment, and one you wouldn’t find in a coarser, more industrially processed mainstream comedy. Table 19 may be a misfire, but at least it’s a hand-crafted misfire.

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Published at Wed, 01 Mar 2017 18:46:41 +0000