First Hit: Poorly conceived, not funny, and poorly executed.
When a film isn’t clearly defined, and has no real point, the audience will struggle. When a film adds poor execution to a lack of direction it ought to be tabled.
There is so little about this film that works, I cannot imagine the producer seeing it for the first time in the screening room saying, I can’t wait to get this distributed. So why did someone put this in theaters? They may have been hoping that the stars who are in it would fill seats ($).
Briefly, Eloise (Anna Kendrick) has become the ex-maid of honor after being dumped via text from the bride’s brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell). The story tells us she had known the bride her whole life and she was shocked to find out that she was also dumped from the bridal party as maid of honor. I did like the scene where she kept checking both the regrets and acceptance boxes on the wedding invitation. In her own disgust at her behavior, she finally sets it on fire and then puts out the flames and sends the burnt invitation back to the bride Francie Millner (Rya Meyers). Arriving at the wedding, her seating assignment is Table 19 the table furthest from bride a groom. This is the table for outcasts, people who the bride and groom wished had sent their regrets.
When Eloise gets to the table, she finds Nanny Jo (June Squibb), Bina and Jerry Kepp (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson) Renzo Eckberg (Tony Revolori), and Walter Thimple (Stephen Merchant). Eloise explains the entire room table setup because she did the seating chart and why the people she’s sitting with are not important to the wedding party. With this knowledge, the table leaves the wedding party and spends time outside learning more about each other.
There are several scenes when the camera is aimed at the wedding reception and wedding party and it is just wasted film. There is no reason for the camera pan and these scenes add no value to the story. There is a set of scenes when Eloise meets a handsome guy named Huck (Thomas Cocquerel) who dances with her, but the team at Table 19 find out later he’s the groom to a wedding just down the hall. There are several set-up scenes which could have evolved into a funny sub-plot or something interesting but they all failed.
The film tries to be funny and it has some wonderful actors who could have made it funny like Kendrick, Squib, Kudrow, Robinson, and Merchant, but most everything failed to be funny. The other side of the film wanted to be dramatic with the subplot of having Eloise pregnant with Teddy’s baby but it failed to gain traction.
Kendrick was as good as she could be with the material she had. I’d suggest that she do a better job of script selection. Squib was thoroughly underutilized and didn’t have an opportunity to share her comedic chops. Kudrow and Robinson as a couple failed. There was no chemistry and I could buy their story of how they got together. We know they both can be funny given good material but… alas. Merchant had a very odd role which if stretched could have been funny, but again the script and direction failed. Revolori was interesting as I couldn’t figure out why he was in the film. His character didn’t fit and the comedic scenes with him didn’t work. Walking up to a table and telling a young woman about the size of his penis didn’t work. Meyers was gracious in her minimal dramatic role. Russell was mediocre in his role. I know the role has him being a bit slow and not too bright, but it didn’t work. Jay and Mark Duplass wrote this strangely weak and poorly constructed screenplay that really had no real beginning, middle, or end. It just started at one level, ran for a couple hours and fizzled out all-together. Jeffery Blitz had no chance to make this film work because of the script, but it is important to note that his direction didn't help the film either.
Overall: One of the worst films that will come out in 2017.