“People do weird things at weddings,” says Huck (Thomas Cocquerel), a handsome stranger who takes Eloise (Anna Kendrick) for a spin on the dance floor in the almost-rom-com “Table 19.” Maybe that’s true, but in the case of this movie, they do quirky and sometimes unpredictable things, but weird? Not quite.
On the day of her childhood friend’s wedding Eloise (Kendrick) repeats the mantra, “Today will not suck.” She may be close to the bride but is attending the wedding begrudgingly. Her ex-boyfriend Teddy (Wyatt Russell), a flame-haired dim wit who dumped her by text with the words “good luck in your future endeavours,” is the best man and she still hate-loves him.
She arrives to find herself seated at Table 19, a collection of misfits she says, “should have known to send regrets but not before sending an expensive gift.” There’s Jo Flanagan (June Squibb), a pot smoker who was once the bride’s nanny, the Kepps (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow), distant friends of the family of the groom, ex-con Walter Thimple (Stephen Merchant) and Rezno Eckberg (“Grand Budapest Hotel’s” Tony Revolori), a young man who introduces himself with, “I have achieved puberty and I’m in the band.”
Because they are the outcasts, invited out of politeness and seated far from the action, they spend the day together. Secrets are revealed and the complex nature of relationships is explored. Will Eloise be able to speak to Teddy? Will the Kepps’ marriage survive the weekend? Will Renzo ever get a date? What will become of Jo and Walter?
“Table 19” is a rom com, but not a traditional one. It’s a super-reverso-rom-com that begins after the couple already has a history and broken up. It’s no secret that the heart of the movie will be their relationship so your enjoyment of the movie will be related to how much you care about this quirky collection of folks.
Kendrick is an agreeable presence, bringing equal parts edge and vulnerability to Eloise. Robinson and Kudrow banter like an old married couple and Squibb radiates warmth while Revolori and Merchant dial up their eccentricities. It’s an interesting group who by times are quite funny but most often feels like a collection of characters rather than real people. They shuffle from one set-up to another—Whoops! They knocked over the wedding cake!—lurching through the wedding on the way to the end credits and some sort of relationship resolution.
“Table 19” will raise a laugh or two or three, but the artificial nature of the situation isn’t weird enough to truly embrace the quirkiness of the characters or interesting enough to engage the audience.