The Wedding Ringer feels like the umpteenth movie starring comedian Kevin Hart in the last year. The breakout out star of 2014 has headlined four major releases over a 12 month span, so our quarterly Hart fix is once again at hand. This new vehicle for the diminutive actor is sort of like Hitch 2. Hart is called in to add bravado, social grace, and friendship to a schlub, whose painfully unaware of his ineptitude. Surprisingly, the picture plays fast and the up-for-the-task cast makes the most out of the playful material given to them.
Kevin Hart is Jimmy Callahan, a man who runs a service for groomsman unable to conjure up a best man for their big wedding day. Business is good, and Jimmy is great at doing the gigs for guys he’s never met before or has any intention of seeing after the ceremony. Doug (Josh Gad) is a nice guy lacking any real male friends, he’s about to get married soon and the pressure is on to pick a best man and seven groomsmen. Panic stricken and nearly out of time, Doug turns to the services of Jimmy to orchestrate the appearance that he is a longtime friend of the groom. Jimmy must adopt the persona of Bic Mitchum, Doug’s imaginary best friend, a man so reclusive and eccentric he supposedly lives in El Salvador, and serves as a military chaplain. This ridiculous back story is saddled on Jimmy and a lot of the film’s humor comes from watching the motor-mouthed slick witted Hart maneuvering through Bic’s sorted (and false) personal history.
However, Doug needs the ‘Golden Tie’ treatment. This calls for Jimmy to recruit seven local knuckleheads to portray various roles as Douglas’s pack of friends. These misfits are well-cast and they add some off-beat color to what could have been a bland proceeding. Each man is given a dossier that contains their character and accomplishments, important info that is to be used during the reception should they be accosted by any nosey guests or relatives.
Jimmy makes it clear to Doug that once the event is over, so is their friendship. I won’t spoil the individual scenes that compromise the film’s wedding climax, but the efficiency and high energy of the film’s first two acts maintain through to the finale.
A movie like The Wedding Ringer is dependent on casting and writing, both are solid. Josh Gad is an extremely likable everyman and Kevin Hart has never been more appealing on-screen. The direction from Jeremy Garelick keeps things moving at a breakneck pace for a comedy, opting not to linger on moments of sentimentality but instead forging ahead to the next joke or comedic sequence. After last years numerous comedy releases, most of which were D.O.A., it’s refreshing to see an energetic run through with a lively cast and a good-hearted screenplay. The Wedding Ringer may be advertised as a romantic comedy, but its closer to the Bro-mance genre, it sits alongside Hitch and Wedding Crashers as exemplary examples of the burgeoning sub genre.
Director: Jeremy Garelick
Stars: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting