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Friday, January 16, 2015

The Wedding Ringer 2015 * 1/2 Stars

The Wedding RingerDirector: Jeremy Garelick
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Kevin Hart, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Josh Gad

Same Kevin Hart movie, same old Kevin Hart. That's the vibe I got from watching The Wedding Ringer (regrettably, my first review of anything released in 2015). As usual, Hart's a fast talker, Mr. improv if you will. But he hasn't been likable since the original Think Like A Man and now his life as an actor has reached its torrid expiration date. Overexposure perhaps? Maybe. But it's not all his fault. "Ringer" is bad with or without him. It's crass, classless, offensive, and mostly unfunny. I mean you do laugh a few times only to leave the theater slapping yourself for doing so. Granted, this is the type of lame comedy that critics refer to as "January Junk". It might be one step above of an Adam Sandler vehicle (that ain't saying much) but still belongs in the yard with other collective, scrap heapings.

Written by the guy who penned 2006's The Break Up (Jay Lavender) and featuring a bachelor party scene where its characters dodge 90 mile-an-hour fastballs shot from a batting cage pitching machine (remind me as to how this is fun?), The Wedding Ringer focuses on future husband Doug Harris (The Internship's Josh Gad). He's a little out of his league in the looks department. However, he's well off financially and he's snagged a gorgeous fiancee in Gretchen Palmer (played by Kaley-Cuoco Sweeting). Here's the problem though: He doesn't have any friends, just long lost acquaintances. Sadly, they either don't have time to attend his wedding or just flat out don't want to. The solution: Hire a best man guru in Jimmy Callahan (played by Kevin Hart who also goes by the alias, "Bic Mitchum"). He provides best man services (along with finding a hefty amount of groomsmen) for a price. After it's all over, everyone goes their separate ways and Bic's fictional persona I guess, dies three months later. In retrospect, this is a business transaction where Hart's Bic is to pose as Doug's long time bud. The two break the rules by actually forming a small bond. Hart's performance however (or maybe it's the script), suggests that he's not the type of dude you'd want to be friends with. He's kind of an uppity a-hole to be honest.

By the way, did I mention that the acting in "Ringer" is mediocre to awful? Well the groomsmen are comprised of dudes I've never even heard of (unknowns in the form of Jorge Garcia, Dan Gill, and Colin Kane to name three). They're the types of nincompoops who reminded me of Leo Dicaprio's stock broker gang in The Wolf of Wall Street. The difference is that those twerps in Scorsese's 2013 odyssey could actually act where as the guys in "Ringer" were probably picked off the street by director Jeremy Garelick. As for Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Garelick does her no favors by promoting an underdeveloped role via her Penny character in The Big Bang Theory (you know the hot vixen who's been burned in jock guy relationships and instead decides to get with the nerd because he's well, safe). She plays her role completely straight and not only that, she fades in and out of the proceedings to the point where it's almost transparent. And as expected, Kaley's Gretchen may be smoking hot but Gad's Doug Harris is way too good for her anyway. Speaking of Gad, he probably gives the best performance out of everybody. There's a certain vulnerability that he brings. His character is likable and an all around good guy. As you watch "Ringer", you wonder why he would actually stoop down a level to yearn to be friends with Hart's Callahan. Sadly, Kevin Hart is playing Kevin Hart once again here and he mistakes comedic timing for acting like a self-impudent jerk (I don't know, what do you call a dude who charges $20,000 a wedding to be a pseudo best man? Talk about robbing someone blind).

Moving right along. Here are things to look out for if you actually want to take in a viewing of "Ringer" (let's hope I saved you from that discretion): There's the grandmother of Kaley Cuoco's bride played by 88 year-old Cloris Leachman. She's does the cliched thing by being the old timer who says dirty words (Leachman blurts out the p-word just to warn you). She also displays the obligatory Cloris Leachman look (befuddled is the term I would use), has maybe four lines total, and gets set on fire by accident (isn't that precious). She's definitely a long way from The Last Picture Show (what a shame). Another thing to look out for is a scene where Josh Gad's character gets his genitals licked and then bitten by a dog (at his bachelor party). It's the type of gross out scene that's been done before. It's tired, it's not really funny and we've all witnessed the fake, prosthetic penis in movies past tense (think A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas as an example and you'll know what I'm talking about). Finally, there's the sequence where Josh's fake groomsmen take on the bride's father and his friends in a gridiron football game. This is really nauseating stuff and it's freaking boring. The old timer football team is comprised of cameos including Joe Namath (making weird gyrations with his body and spewing nasty insults) and Ed "Too Tall" Jones. Why these guys agreed to appear in this thing is anyone's guess. Maybe their million dollar houses are being foreclosed upon and they needed the extra paycheck. There's one explanation I can think of. Oh and it was an insult to hear certain musical themes from other movies being filtered in during the muddy football tryst. I'm not that offended that they included The Karate Kid's "You're The Best Around". I'm more ticked off that they actually blared the climatic film score from one of my favorite sports movies of all time, Rudy. Sacrilege I tell you. Pure sacrilege.

In conclusion, it's clear that The Wedding Ringer kind of rips off Wedding Crashers (everything from the awkward dinner table scene to the mild twist of an ending to the fake sort of banality to the romantic subplot between Hart and Kaley's character's sister that never goes anywhere). It also channels the whole Hitch thing where Josh Gad is in the Kevin James role and Kevin Hart is in the Will Smith role (and no I'm not stereotyping). What's ultimately despairing is that this film sometimes finds a soft center side between its characters along with peaking into the altitude of their proposed friendship. Too bad things are under minded with unpleasant gross out humor and forced physical comedy that seems just for show. Truth be told, this "Ringer" is a fraudulent substitute and totally not in a good way.

Written by Jesse Burleson


  1. This movie is hilarious! You suck as film critic. You should do something else

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. I appreciate the feedback