One gross-out joke. A moment of bonding. Some debauchery. Random reference to an older television show. Two likeable leads, which may or may not have chemistry together. I’ve basically summarized both The Wedding Ringer and any bromance film you can think of. In terms of films about men being friends with other men, this isn’t the worst of the films, and actually has some genuinely interesting elements to its set up. But like most films of its kind, The Wedding Ringer is just a vehicle for two actors to make you laugh. Which even this film has a tough time doing.
I am not going to state that I was flat-out bored during the movie, nor am I going to say that I had to force myself to watch it. I like Kevin Hart, even if he can sometimes be too charismatic. And Josh Gad is just great. In some alternate universe, he is getting the dues he deserves for being an extremely versatile comedic actor. The Wedding Ringer has the two of them getting intimate and bouncing jokes off one another as they prepare for Doug Harris’s (Gad) wedding.
Doug doesn’t have many friends – or really, he has none. His best friend is his soon-to-be wife (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), which is unfortunate because he needs a best man and seven groomsmen. A “golden tux”, as Jimmy Callahan (Hart) puts it. Jimmy runs a very profitable business providing services to those who need a best man and groomsmen for their wedding, and when Doug discovers him and his services, he immediately puts Jimmy to work.
Alright, I’m going to stop summarizing now. As you can probably guess, the film goes in the exact way you are likely thinking. However, there are still moments within The Wedding Ringer which hint at something more thought out. Take Doug’s predicament of not having any friends, for example. The movie starts off by making Doug look like a socially incompetent buffoon who couldn’t make a friend if he tried. Funny thing is, there is a moment when Gad reveals why he has no friends – and it has nothing to do with anything the film has shown up to that point.
Moments like these have no time to breathe, with the exception of the final wedding sequence which actually was a lot of fun. But one good scene doesn’t save a film that refuses to flip the script, especially when it falls back on a typical formula. There’s a larger conversation to be had of whether movies should even be advertised as bromance movies before they come to theaters, and whether that hurts or benefits the film. Knowing that Kevin Hart and Josh Gad were the two leads, they were both male, and one was “socially challenged” and the other was eccentric, I saw the ends of their character arcs coming before the film even came out. Then in the first 5 minutes, they essentially solidify it.
That is my largest issue with The Wedding Ringer: it has genuinely decent characters, with actual heart to them, but undercuts them in service of bad jokes and moments equivalent to comfort food. The two leads are on-fire during their screen time, and despite some interactions which feel forced, the chemistry is definitely palpable between them. They’ve just been handed a bad movie. No two actors could fix the lack of humor found in the film. Though, I did laugh at that one LOST joke that gets made for no reason other than to make a cultural reference which most people will snicker at. It worked on me, I apologize.
Ticking off the requirements of a comedy should not look this easy. And if it does looks this easy, it should have more to it. There shouldn’t be a checklist which films can adhere to in order to create something marketable. On the plus side, I give The Wedding Ringer props for getting two comedic actors that aren’t extremely famous (Hart is definitely getting there, though). They may not save the movie, but at least there is little reliance on star power to sell the film. And in a world still oversaturated with Tyler Perry films and Johnny Depp vehicles, nothing gives me hope more than that.