By Nick Anstett
Elm Staff Writer
Within the last few years we’ve had an increase of buddy-centric comedy films that some people have taken to calling “Bromantic Comedies.” The term “bromance” may have overstayed its welcome, but it hasn’t stopped Hollywood from cashing in on some comedic male-bonding. When it works, you get such gems as the surprisingly witty Jump Street series and when it doesn’t you get forgettable romps such as “I Love You Man.” “The Wedding Ringer” finds itself somewhere in between. It’s surprisingly heartfelt and even has its fair degree of charm, but it’s unlikely to linger on anyone’s minds longer than a day or two.
Jimmy Calahan (Kevin Hart) is a man for hire, more specifically a best man. Jimmy’s made a living off false public appearances of friendship for men and women during one of the most important days of their lives by inventing a fictional best man persona. Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is just ten days out from his wedding to what seems to be the girl of his dreams, Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). There’s just one small problem. In an act of desperation, Doug invented seven fictional groomsmen in an attempt to impress his significantly more popular wife-to-be. When all seems lost, Doug turns to Jimmy in an attempt to salvage what’s left of his wedding.
If one word could describe “The Wedding Ringer” it would be: cute. It’s a strange word to apply considering the R-rating the film has earned through its rather pervasive vulgarity, but it fits. There’s something genuinely novel about the premise, as unbelievable as it may be at times, and the friendship between Jimmy and Doug is genuinely endearing. Much of this is due to the chemistry that Hart and Gad quickly form with one another. They’re a suitable and often times very entertaining comedic duo.
At the end of the day it all comes down to a matter of: “Is ‘The Wedding Ringer’ funny?” The answer is: funny enough. As mentioned earlier, the true highlights of the film come from the dynamic that Hart and Gad build for themselves. It’s also where most of the successful humor can be found. As the two are bouncing dialogue and sight gags off each other it’s fun and often laugh-worthy. It’s in its bigger moments that “The Wedding Ringer” surprisingly stumbles. Writer and director Jeremy Garelick spends considerable time setting and building up elaborate comedic set pieces that often over-stay their welcome. It’s unfortunate in that the script creates these moments like a mud-drenched tackle football game against Doug’s father-in-law and a post-bachelor party car chase as its main draws. They eat up valuable screen play and take away from the human moments that make “The Wedding Ringer” fun.
There’s also a surprisingly mean spirited undertone that slips its way into the latter half of the film. It’s nothing truly upsetting, but there’s a sublevel of cruelty that feels more cringe worthy than funny and robs the film again of some its charm.
At the end of the day, “The Wedding Ringer” is a pleasant enough diversion. Kevin Hart and Josh Gad do their best with a cute and novel premise and the result is about what you’d expect. It’s sure to entertain you for an hour or two, but repeat viewings are unlikely to inspire more than a scattered chuckle or so.