Table 19




Jeffrey Blitz’s new comedy TABLE 19 wisely avoids a wedding and leaps straight into the story at the reception.  At most such events, there tends to be a particular table to which the social pariahs and had-to-be-invited misfits are relegated.  It is customarily the furthest from the newly married couple and as one occupant says “Might as well be in the toilets”.


Seated at Table 19 at this nuptial event are Jerry and Bina Kepp (Craig Robertson and Lisa Kudrow) who have a connection to the groom’s father via a diner business in Ohio. Jo (June Squibb) the former nanny who knows all the family secrets but has not seen them in decades.  Rezno (GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL’s Tony Revolori), a naive youth under orders from his needy mother to find a girlfriend and Walter (Stephen Merchant), a gangly, socially-awkward ex-felon who is the bride’s disgraced cousin.  The surprise addition is our lead lady Eloise (Anna Kendrick).  Eloise had been the proposed maid-of-honor and was the girlfriend of the best man, until he broke up with her via text just prior to the wedding.  She decides to attend regardless and is of course seated at the leper table with the other outcasts.


What we have here is a very uneven film that offers a wonderfully talented ensemble cast who try to do their best with second-rate material.  There are fatal flaws with the screenplay by actor Mark Duplass and his brother Jay.  Some characters are badly underwritten and most of the jokes fall flat.  The action and resolution lack credibility. Many of the comedic set ups are a tad hackneyed.  The wedding cake upset, the nanny sharing her stash of marijuana, infidelity accusations, a handsome stranger gate-crashing and the like.


I found the tone of this production to be all over the place.  At times entering quirky indie territory, then rehashing films like THE BREAKFAST CLUB.  Overall, it offers some compensations.  A few nicely handled funny moments that while not laugh out loud do produce a wry smile.  The expected professional delivery from the reliable cast (incidentally the caddish best man / ex boyfriend Teddy is played by Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.  Somewhat outclassed in this company but promising.) And as details emerge that flesh out the natures of the residents of social- Siberia, Table 19, there is that bittersweet aspect that life’s disappointments and pains can be eased when shared with people one does not know and will probably never see again.  As STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE’s Blanche so memorably said “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”.








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