TABLE 19 (Finland | USA/12A/87mins)
Directed by Jeffrey Blitz. Starring Anna Kendrick, June Squibb, Craig Robinson, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Merchant.
THE PLOT: After she is dumped by the Best Man via text, Eloise (Anna Kendrick) steps down as maid of honour at her oldest friend’s wedding, but decides to attend the wedding anyway. Finding herself at table 19, with other people who, in Eloise’s own words, should have known better than to RSVP yes, Eloise soon learns that she is not the only one keeping a secret at this wedding.
THE VERDICT: Written for the screen by Mark and Jay Duplass, it would be easy to dismiss ‘Table 19’ as a stereotypical, fluffy rom-com, but there is a darker emotional core to the film that makes it engaging and sweet.
The cast of ‘Table 19’ is made up of Anna Kendrick, June Squibb, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, Tony Revolori and Stephen Merchant. These are the characters seated at table 19, and each of the cast are given the unusual chance to round out their characters well on screen – even though this is clearly Eloise’s story – and allow the audience to connect with the dumped girlfriend, the former nanny, the married couple who are in trouble, the young man told to go to the wedding by his mother, to meet someone and the disgraced family member who is not really able to hide his secret. Much of the humour in the film comes from Stephen Merchant’s character; the actor’s timing is charming and often brilliant.
Mark and Jay Duplass’ screenplay takes the wedding rom-com and plays with the tropes that we are familiar with seeing in these films. There are plenty of laughs to be had with this quirky and sweet film, but the Duplass brothers make sure that the film has tons of heart for the audience to connect with. There are times when the pacing of the film struggles to keep the audience fully engaged, however, and there are character choices made that feel as though they are more in keeping with the rom-com genre, rather than turning it on its head.
Jeffrey Blitz is an Oscar nominated documentary director, but has cut his comedy chops on the TV shows ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘The Office’. Blitz does well in making sure the audience identifies with the characters and roots for them, while making sure that the over the top elements of the film are played for laughs, and get them. There are times when the pacing struggles, and the to-ing and fro-ing in and out of the hotel becomes rather tiresome, but there is a strong and warm heart to ‘Table 19’, which just about makes up for this.
In all, ‘Table 19’ is a gentle comedy with a dark emotional heart. There are plenty of laughs to be had with the film, and tons of touching moments, but there are also times when ‘Table 19’ stops poking fun at the genre it is lampooning, and gets a little too caught up in the rom, and loses the com.
RATING: 3.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    What is it about movies about weddings that brings out not only the best in characters, but also the worst? Maybe it’s that combination of happy/sad when a character finds herself in a sad life situation but is really pining for other people’s happiness. That’s the basis of Table 19, a comedy-drama with a few surprises up its sleeve.

    Eloise (Anna Kendrick) is going through a period of uncertainty. Having been dumped by text by her ex Teddy (Wyatt Russell), she now has to ponder over whether she’s going to attend the wedding of her best friend Francie (Rya Meyers). The only problem is that Teddy is Francie’s brother. He’s the best man and Eloise still has feelings for him. Having changed her mind as often as her shoes, Eloise eventually decides to go along to the wedding. Thereupon, she finds that she’s been assigned to the titular last table at the back of the room. It’s an oddball group, composed of bickering, on-the-rocks couple Bina (Lisa Kudrow) and Jerry (Craig Robinson), forgotten nanny Jo (June Squibb), convict on parole Walter (Stephen Merchant) and nervous oddball Rezno (Tony Revolori). As Eloise drowns her sorrows with the group of unwanted guests, she finds common bonds with them…

    Screenwriters and occasional acting brothers Jay and Mark Duplass have fashioned a rather smart screenplay which plays within the conventions of the wedding movie, but then goes in its own particular direction. From the trailer, it looks like a standard comedy about a character finding herself and what she wants from life. That’s true of Eloise, but the script goes a little deeper to show how messy and imperfect these characters’ lives are. There’s a refreshing honesty to the script which is commendable, as several narrative bombshells are dropped and characters aren’t always what they seem. This is best exemplified in a key scene towards the end, which cuts off unexpectedly. That’s true of real life, rather than the convenient truth of movie plots.

    Having given Kendrick one of her first screen roles, director Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound) has found a character that fits well into Kendrick’s charming girl-next-door type. Eloise’s indecisiveness is a running joke throughout the film, but we definitely laugh with her rather than at her. The supporting characters are well played by the rest of the cast, all flawed characters but with a firm sense of who they are and where they’re going. It’s a motley bunch for sure, but there’s an amiability to them and their camraderie that sets the film apart from others of its type. Having done so well playing against type, the film gently falls back into conventional territory towards the end. It’s a touch disappointing, when it could have gone in a more original, different direction. Table 19 is a sweet and mostly fulfilling film though and is not your average wedding movie. RSVP in the positive. ***

  • emerb

    Written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz, “Table 19” is a comedy/drama which tells the story of a random group of strangers who end up seated together at a wedding reception and find that the experience leads to some unlikely bonding, awkward reveals, uncomfortable confessions and they are forced to confront many emotional issues in their lives. The title refers to the table number where they have been placed, far away from the bride’s and groom’s family tables. None of those at table 19 rated highly enough to be seated any nearer and they are as far away as you can get from anybody of significance, down in the corner next door to the bathrooms. Starring a number of familiar faces such as Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Merchant and Wyatt Russell, this is a movie for everyone who has ever felt deeply uncomfortable at another
    person’s wedding reception, and it’s happened to us all!

    Eloise McGarry (Kendrick) has been recently unceremoniously dumped via text message by her goofball boyfriend Teddy (Russell). She agonizes over whether she’ll attend her best friend’s wedding, especially since her former lover is the bride’s brother. In the end, she does agree to attend, but instead of her former position as the maid of honor, our unlucky heroine has now been demoted to Table 19. This is the table in a distant and isolated corner of the room with “oddballs” who aren’t really part of the reception at all and scorned Eloise explains in a rapid-fire head-count sequence just how low they rank in the overall
    seating-assignment hierarchy. Joining her at this table are an unhappily
    married squabbling couple – Jerry (Robinson) and Bina Kepp (Kudrow), Walter
    Thimble (Merchant) is a disgraced, strangely awkward and nervous recently released convict trying to readjust to society, Renzo Eckberg (Tony Revolori) is a dorky and socially unskilled but horny teenager desperately trying to lose his virginity and genial Jo Flanagan (Squibb) is the bride’s retired first nanny with a secret marijuana stash. Naturally they don’t get on well at the start but as the night progresses they come to appreciate each other, reveal their personal secrets and form new friendships.

    This movie is pleasant, casual, relaxed and charming thanks to the lively cast and bouncy soundtrack. However, not everything works. Some of the jokes fail to raise a giggle and not all of the storylines spark enough interest to earn consistent laughs. It’s worth seeing for the performances though, Merchant is highly entertaining playing his usual googly-eyed dopey self with his deadpan delivery and funny walk. Kudrow and Robinson are unusual casting as the bickering pair of diner owners in an undersexed marriage but their constant squabbling is amusing. It’s also fun watching Kendrick in a state of emotional vulnerability rather than her usual prim and proper confident persona. “Table 19” aims to please and while it’s not a shining success, it is agreeable and undemanding. I’m not complaining!