Comedy is never an easy genre to get right and far too often filmmakers don’t get the balance right between serious and funny which ultimately destabilises the entire film. Thankfully, Table 19’s talented, charming cast are enough to overlook some of the plot issues and deliver a very good and more importantly, funny film that for the most part delivers.
The story follows Eloise (Anna Kendrick), a woman still dealing with her ex-partner dumping her via text on the eve of her best friend’s wedding. The same wedding where her ex just happens to be best man. She decides to go along to the wedding and finds herself in the company of a bunch of misfits on the “random” table as they all try to enjoy the wedding with their own problems. The story’s good, even if the ending feels a little cheesy and contrived, and thankfully the laughs continue until the final frame.
What Table 19 does really well is its characters. Every one of them is well fleshed out and the plot for each resolved in a manner befitting the film. Whether it be the Kepps (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), the strange Walter (Stephen Merchant) or social misfit Rezno (Tony Revolori) the characters are funny and relate able. It does get surprisingly deep at times with some good dialogue from the characters as it effortlessly switches between drama and comedy. Unlike in other comedies, these feel like real people with real problems and not just cartoon caricatures. Its a refreshing break from some of the more goofy comedies that value slapstick and cheap laughs over building character and channelling the laughs through characters we’ve grown accustomed to.
Through all its positives, the film struggles to maintain an even pace. There’s some plot ideas here that aren’t fully explored and others that questionably shouldn’t and devalue the motivations of the characters. Table 19 does try to break conventions with the cliches in this genre but for all its trying, it does sink into some of the more obvious ones. The ending in particular is a little too cheesy and perhaps its the cynic in me that felt perhaps it would have valued from a more open ending but its sure to please most people.
For a genre that so heavily features weddings, Table 19 is a surprisingly fresh take on the concept with some memorable characters and laughs throughout. Its not perfect, and its uneven pacing does take a bit of a wobble as the film draws its conclusion but its easy to overlook with what else is going on. Its a very enjoyable film and one of the better comedies released this year, highly recommended.