Let’s clear up a few things about The Wedding Ringer right off the bat. First, it’s a Kevin Hart film. If you don’t like Kevin Hart (I do) then don’t go see the movie, you most likely won’t enjoy it at all. Secondly, it’s rather misogynistic. This is more a bromantic comedy than a romantic comedy as the men primarily speak as if the ladies aren’t in the room. If such comedy offends you, perhaps you too might want to sit this one out. Otherwise, The Wedding Ringer is a mixed bag. I smiled and laughed frequently while I found myself saying, “Okay, get on with it,” more than once. It’s not a strong brom-com contender, but it should satisfy the right audience in a pinch.
There is little out of the stereotypical norm as we meet Doug (Josh Gad), an overweight, nerdy, loner type, who’s engage to be married to Gretchen, your standard, gorgeous blonde played by “The Big Bang Theory” star Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting. While the film does make a comment on this kind of cliched theatrical pairing, it doesn’t necessarily do it as a statement, but more as a plot resolution. But hey, at least it acknowledged it.
The story finds Doug in a bit of an unbelievable pickle as his wedding is in two weeks and he doesn’t yet have a confirmed best man or the seven necessary groomsmen. The thing about this is, Doug, doesn’t have any friends. Not one, and Gretchen hasn’t seemed to notice this? Doug chalks it up to working too much, but even still, doesn’t Gretchen wonder why the man she’s marrying doesn’t have a single friend? Sure, he lists off a bunch of made up names for his groomsmen, but doesn’t a light go off in her head wondering just where exactly these people have been the entire time they’ve been dating? I don’t know, it’s a pretty stupid story conceit, but considering it is the story, you roll with it.
Enter Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), owner of The Best Man, Inc., a service that provides a best man for those lacking in such areas, but for Doug he’s going to have to pull off a miracle, the “Golden Tux”, which includes not only a best man (to be played by Jimmy), but seven groomsmen. Comedy ensues as Doug, Jimmy and a ragtag group making up the groomsmen get to know each other inside and out leading up to the big day. Grandma (Cloris Leachman) catches on fire, the father-in-law to be (Ken Howard) says wildly inappropriate things, Joe Namath shows up for a second, Gretchen’s sister (Olivia Thirlby) has her doubts about Doug’s best man and so on.
As someone that likes Kevin Hart’s rapid-fire delivery and comedic timing, the film served well as an average comedy. I’m typically not a big fan of Josh Gad (at least when he’s not voicing animated snowmen), but he didn’t grate on me too much here. The female characters are largely under-written as Thirlby, in a few small scenes, actually has a better showing than Cuoco, a bride we can pretty much see through right from the start, and I tend to always enjoy any time Jenifer Lewis shows up and this movie is no different.
Directed by Jeremy Garelick, who co-wrote the film with his The Break-Up screenwriting partner Jay Lavender, The Wedding Ringer is pretty much a soft lob down the middle. It will undoubtedly be looked at as offensive by those easily offended and those turned off by Hart’s style of comedy will never be on board in the first place. For everyone else it’s a perfectly satisfying time at the movies, though a movie likely forgotten within the week.