Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Anna Kendrick – Eloise
Craig Robinson – Jerry
June Squibb – Jo
Stephen Merchant – Walter
Lisa Kudrow – Bina
Tony Revolori – Renzo
Wyatt Russell – Teddy
Amanda Crew – Nicole
Just shocking. Table 19 was absolutely nowhere near the level of entertainment I wanted it to be. This movie pulled the classic trick of looking hilarious on the advertisment poster, but delivering the complete opposite. It’s a prime example of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ – only the other way round..
In short, viewers get six people seated around a wedding reception dinner table, all single except the bickering couple by the window (Kudrow and Robinson). Now, you’d think with such a restrictive setting that the dialogue exchanged between characters would be hilarious. But it wasn’t. And this took me by surprise massively. At first, each character introduces him / herself with a bit of background as to what they do in life and how they are related to the bride and groom. The scene then continues with Eloise (Kendrick) pausing to reflect on why she is there. And then she decides to introduce the rest of the function room to her new table peers.
Some nifty camerawork here as it rattles and zooms in & out on various adults. Sadly, the camerawork was the best bit of this scene as the subsequent conversations between the guests of table 19 simply fizzled out into nothing. Bina and Jerry have a serious moment when she happens to mention how their relationship is currently a bit rocky. This then turns just plain weird when he asks her to stand up at the same time the waiter comes to serve champagne – because the waiter is wearing the same colour jacket as her.
This wasn’t going well.
I honestly felt as though I had come to the cinema to watch genuine filmed footage of a random person’s wedding reception. People sitting at a table. Talking. That was it. With supporting cast wandering around in the background, sipping drinks and chatting amongst themselves.
You then have Renzo (Revolori) who is a bit of an oddball, but fortunately the only person who rescues the scene from sinking completely with his bizarre comments and innuendo.
And then – the person I thought would bring the house down. Bring excellent comic relief. Walter (Merchant). The man has been superb in past movies, I was certain he’d be the hero of Table 19.
…what on god’s earth?
Something was wrong here. Merchant’s character was weird with a dodgy background, but the actor’s portrayal lacked the comic dynamic it needed to bring him to life. Slurred speech and long pauses between some sentences brought reflected silence from his fellow actors. It was simply like watching a subdued gentleman bang on about his life as he basically lied to everyone at the table about where he came from.
I couldn’t have been less entertained. I was hating this. And it wasn’t just me who wasn’t entertained, there was a snigger or two from someone in the auditorium but otherwise I noted hardly any reaction from fellow cinema goers.
Whoever was in charge of script on this production needs firing from Hollywood. Table 19 consisted of idle conversation with minimal comedy. Written in the right way this movie could have been fantastic, but there was a massive black hole on set and it was sucking everything funny in, fast.
Someone needed to step in – quickly.
I could instantly tell director Jeffrey Blitz threw a load of physical action into the mix to try and make up for the sheer lack of comedy here. It involved characters quite simply – tripping over. This seemed to happen at random intervals too; one scene shows the people of table 19 walking through the grand hotel. As they walk along a corridoor, one falls down on the carpet.
Was this supposed to be funny?
Another fall happens shortly after this, again in the middle of a normal situation and for no reason. And then Walter falls sideways off a bed later on. I can honestly imagine the director right now..
“ok, guys. That’s a wrap! Let’s add people falling over tomorrow to make the movie funnier. We gotta do something to get the audience laughing, huh?”
[hesitant, slightly chuckling actor faces stare back at director].
Ok, so I’ve been a bit blunt about the whole unfunny aspect of Table 19. But what went right? Surely something had to?
The only element of this movie worth noting is its theme of farce.
Wedding reception: bitter guests, miserable singletons, one character walks out – as another one walks in, emotional revelations.. Table 19 contains these kinds of things, albeit massively watered down so not creating much of the desired effect of a farce.
There were a few moments in the movie that made me laugh out loud; mainly lines delivered by Kudrow and Revolori. The two of them are the best performers by far, adding a fantastic dynamic being one male and young, one female and older. Nice balance, great talent.
Table 19 is one of the poorest excuses for a comedy I have ever seen. I don’t need to elaborate, think I’ve done enough.
In all seriousness I would strongly urge fans of genuine comedy to avoid this movie. It more or less consists of Kendrick hanging around in a nice dress, looking disappointed and bitter. And of course, delivering her usual wisecracks with studying facial expressions where it sounds like she’s always asking a demanding question instead of making normal conversation; “would I SERIOUSLY be here if..”, “you don’t think that’s why..”, “do you have ANY idea?..” – etc.
The movie is missing ideal comic moments between certain characters, including cracking one-liner’s. It simply is not funny enough and I think it gets itself confused between drama and comedy as it chugs along.
Other features I’ve seen which split into sub-stories like this have been quite funny; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for example. It has a mix of characters each with a background story, branches off into his / her own situation – and then comes back to the main story towards the end of the film to wrap up. And it’s entertaining.
Sadly, Table 19 does not touch on the individuals for long and just throws them all together at once as though a bunch of people have met up to bitch about life in general. And it’s far from entertaining.
My main shock is how unfunny Stephen Merchant is. Place him in any other movie and he has a lot to offer comically. Fucking fantastic in I Give It a Year (2013). Sadly he was under poor direction for Table 19, it is crystal clear to see his talent had been crushed with the director giving the poor chap very little to work with. And in reverse, he actually comes across a bit creepy instead of funny.
The ending is a bit tacky also; two lead characters thrown together last-minute to see out the story with a highly predictable outcome.
This is a table I wouldn’t sit at even if you paid me.