“I am not looking for a friend. I’m looking for a best man.”
Stars Josh Gad and Kevin Hart have said in interviews that the script for The Wedding Ringer had been moseying its way around the Hollywood circuit for 8+ years. That means the script itself was written before the likes of Wedding Crashers and I Love You, Man. What an admirable persistence to bring the story to the screen. Yet while it’s earnest in its endeavors, at times even funny and charming, it never bothers to place itself in a current setting. Release this movie 8 years ago and it would make sense. There would be a logic to it if not for the lack of updates, which reveal one plothole after another. Not once does it feel unique, and that’s because it isn’t. Scenes are flat-out stolen from multiple predecessors. It’s an imperfect combination of an R rated interpretation of Hitch and the trivial banter scenes of an Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn buddy comedy. There are some highs, but man do the lows live in Death Valley.
The friendless, hapless, and desperate Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is about to marry the woman of his dreams. A woman he’d never imagine would even look at him, let alone someday walk down the aisle to say, “I do.” He’s like a grown version of one of the kids from Weird Science, except this time the drop-dead gorgeous woman is in fact real. She’s Gretchen Palmer (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), a decently nice and pleasant person, we think. Although they’re exchanging vows, it’s never a solid relationship. Doug’s a loner and his piled up lies have landed him in a serious pickle.
The story starts off two weeks leading up until the big day. Doug has yet to pull the pin on his truth grenade, revealing the explosive news that none of his groomsmen, not even his best man, actually exist. It’s a clever premise that would have worked prior to the booming information age we live in and the public, freely sharing mediaopolis we’re quickly transitioning into. Gretchen is a detail-oriented character who just wants to get married. She is Doug’s dream, and the wedding itself is hers. It’s preposterous to believe that her character, or any sensible person, would blindly believe such stories without taking the liberty to check for themselves. Trust is one thing, but being oblivious is another.
With his back against the wall and nowhere else to turn, Doug resorts to a “special service” to fix his problems. In comes Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart). His business plan is simple enough: there are millions of grooms each year and it’s impossible for each one to have a best man. But Doug needs a Golden Tux (7 groomsmen and a best man). Jimmy says it can’t be done. It’s never even been attempted. Doug pleads, begs, is willing to pay any price. Let the ruse begin. This was really the only part of the movie I found enjoyable. Doug and Jimmy spend a night quizzing each other over every possible detail and question that they could be asked about their “best friend.” Jimmy herds together a menagerie of sad sack losers from an amusement park of all places to round out the group. They learn their temporary aliases and once the wedding is over they’re meant to cut all ties completely. The chemistry developed between the group, especially Gad and Hart, for the most part works really well. Unfortunately the charm is often sacrificed for crude, lazy humor and uneventful drama.
The crude humor I’m referring to is for the second time in the span of two months, I got to watch a dog slurp peanut butter off of a man’s genitals (the other case being the deplorable Dumb and Dumber To). I honestly can’t find a way to get past or possibly justify that brand of humor. It’s not funny…it’s disgusting and inhumane. The Wedding Ringer ends way too fast and exactly how you would expect. The filmmakers pull a runaway bride, teasing us with a decent movie throughout, then throw in some awfully distasteful scenes that leave us at the altar. If they cared about this movie, if they liked it at all, they would have put a ring on it. The fact that The Wedding Ringer got me to quote Beyonce in a review should say enough about my overall experience.
“God created the world in seven days. We gotta do a whole lot more in a lot less time!”
Rating: 2 out of 5