Film review: THE WEDDING RINGER, from ‘Built For Speed’

If there’s a more puerile film than The Wedding Ringer this year, God help humanity. This mindless and mirthless variation on the 80’s party animal movie formula makes Adam Sandler‘s films look like the works of Noel Coward.

Admittedly, this film stars Kevin Hart of Ride Along infamy so we shouldn’t have expected much.  Hart plays Jimmy Callahan a man who offers a strange service in which he pretends to be the best friend and best man for prospective grooms who sadly have no friends. He even recruits people to act as groomsman and ancillary buddies for the hapless groom. When nerdy friendless accountant Doug (Josh Gad) – who, astonishingly, is marrying voluptuous blonde Gretchen (Big Bang Theory’s Kayleigh Cuoco-Sweeting) – seeks out Jimmy’s unique services, Jimmy has to recruit an entire set of friends to act as groomsman for Doug in what will be the biggest wedding ring-in of his career.

This lame set-up allows director Jeremy Garelick to exact some cheap laughs from the quirky misfits he parades across the screen as Jimmy assembles a crew of fake friends for Doug. Most of the gags are racist, sexist, homophobic or demeaning to the disabled and few of them are even remotely funny.  When the show-stopper gag involves a little old lady catching fire we can safely say that the film has some major problems.

One of those problems is that the filmmakers were clearly short on original ideas as this film lifts segments from superior wedding-related comedies.  There’s the bruising gridiron game from The Wedding Crashers, scenes of drunken debauchery that were done much better in The Hangover and even Bachelor Party and of course a sequence involving an awful wedding singer. 

One of the few positive comments that can be made about this film is that it avoids the cliché of the evil, pretty-boy, yuppie stockbroker as the chief villain.  The film also contains a vaguely amusing pastiche of The Usual Suspects although this gag is quickly dropped.

As the conniving huckster Jimmy, Kevin Hart has a manic energy which some will regard as amusing but others will find irritating, particularly as his rapid- fire speech is often unintelligible.  As the doleful Doug, Josh Gad is tolerable but has few funny lines and barely registers as a comic character.  Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, who has proved her talents as a comedienne for years on TV, is simply not given enough to do here.

The Wedding Ringer by no means falls into the wretched Movie 43 category but its abundance of lame-brained gags and dearth of genuine laughs makes it one of this year’s early duds.

Nick’s rating: *1/2.

Genre: Comedy.

Classification: MA.

Director(s): Jeremy Garelick.

Release date: 22nd Jan 2015

Running time: 101 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. 


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