Friday, March 3, 2017

Fox Searchlight Film Review - Table 19

Weddings can be a tricky thing.  They can be joyous, they can be painful, they can feel like an obligation or you could be working the event. But even worse than any of the former options a wedding could be just there and have no impact at all. Sneaky talented actress Anna Kendrick plays Eloise who was the maid of honor to her oldest friend and had a major hand in the table seating plans until dumped by the bride's brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell) 2 weeks before the event. So when she's bumped from table 1 to table 19 she has a unique perspective of the consequences as that table is the one for people the happy couple felt obliged to invite but expected that the invitees would have the common sense to decline but still send an appropriate gift from the registry.

Here table mates are a bickering married couple Jerry and Bina Kepp (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow) who are business acquaintances of the bride's dad. Two awkward males on the brides side Walter (Stephen Merchant) who embezzled from the brides uncle and is still serving his sentence in a half -way house and Renzo (Tony Revolori) who's hit puberty with a vengeance, lacks control of his urges and is firmly under hism mom's thumb.  The final member at the odds and ends table is the family childhood nanny Jo (June Squibb) who is looking to take a puff of marijuana at every opportunity she can get.

Writers Jay and Mark Duplass ambitious script splinters in two many directions to be totally effective. Eloise is involved in at least 4 story lines. Including one with a mysterious lobby dweller Huck (Thomas Cocquerel) who's intrigued by Eloise becomes a tool to make Teddy jealous on the dance floor before disappearing from the picture as abruptly as he entered. The multiple directions of the plot effect the development of most of the supporting characters with possible the exception of Jo the Kepps.  The other back corner table mates do not escape their one denominational initial impressions.

The piece does have some comedic moments including a running gag aimed at Bina who is accidentally dressed the same as the resort reception serving staff. Another good extended barb is the central part the wedding cake plays in the production. A third are Walters nervous responses when asked what he does considering he is on a weekend pass from a half-way house.

Table 19 is a valiant attempt to focus on that table that no one would miss if they all got up and left a wedding at once. The cast is talented trying to do as much as possible with the material on the page that overflows in some areas but falls short in others. The end product may serve to catch the eye of a director or producer to cast one of the above credit players in another feature which is where I would head to check out their work.

** Out of 4.

Table 19 | Jeffrey Blitz | Finland / USA | 2017 | 87 minutes.              

Tags: Wedding, Maid of Honor, Reception, Table Seating Politics, Wedding Cake, White Collar Crime, Break Up, Diner, Marijuana, Babysitter, Half Way House.      

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