The Wedding Ringer Jeremy Garelick

The Wedding Ringer Jeremy Garelick
5
The opening scenes of The Wedding Ringer remind me of I Love You, Man, the 2009 comedy in which Paul Rudd realizes on the eve of his wedding that he has no close friends to serve as his best man and finds himself sparking a bromance with Jason Segel. But where that film was smart and perceptive in how it addressed the awkwardness of making new friends during adulthood, The Wedding Ringer opts for a decidedly broader and more politically incorrect approach that earns its intermittent laughs from such sights as a granny being set ablaze and a dog that gets a case of lockjaw while chomping down on a man's genitals. 

Under pressure from his fiancé (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) to iron out the details of their impending nuptials and with no Segel around to lend a hand, the friendless Doug (Josh Gad) stumbles upon a potential solution to his lack of best man and groomsmen. In the bowels of an amusement park, Doug meets Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), a smooth operator who makes a living offering just the kind of rent-a-best-man services that Doug requires.

He provides Doug with an extensive and unprecedented package called "The Golden Tux" that sees Jimmy play best man by adopting the persona of Bic Mitchum, ostensibly an old friend of Doug's who happens to be a priest that served in the military. In addition to ironing out all the details of this role, Jimmy also agrees to recruit a motley crew to serve as groomsmen that consists of a variety of ex-cons and dimwits (including Lost's Jorge Garcia).

The script, which was co-written by first-time director Jeremy Garelick and has been kicking around for over a decade (at one time it had Vince Vaughan attached), is a collection of raunchy comic set pieces that swing for the fences but only occasionally hit them. There's the requisite wild bachelor party that does all it can to manufacture excitement without actually generating all that much, a violent football game against the bride's father and a group of old NFL players led by a delightfully trash-talking Joe Namath and a perfunctory romance for Jimmy with the criminally underused Olivia Thirlby.

On the heels of films like About Last Night, Think Like A Man (and its sequel) and Ride Along (which also has a sequel in the works), The Wedding Ringer continues the successful and savvy transition of Kevin Hart from comedian to movie star. With Gad acting as a competent foil, Hart's foul-mouthed, fast-talking con man should continue to tickle his fans but likely not win him many new ones. More intriguing are the few moments in which he's called upon to hit emotional beats that hint at the versatile actor Hart might eventually become.

(Sony)