{Reel Reviews} The Wedding Ringer Review: Will Smith is Two Feet Shorter

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Tweetable Takeaway: The Wedding Ringer delves into cheesy rom-com territory far too much.

By: , Contributor

In this sequel to Hitch, Kevin Hart takes over for Will Smith to help a new Kevin James in the form of Josh Gad now that Gad’s character has found love and is getting married.  I’m still not sure why this isn’t called Hitch 2: We’re Hitched, or why there’s an entire new cast.  Unless this is actually a completely unrelated movie, or something. 

Kevin Hart stars as Jimmy Callahan, a best man for hire.  If you’re a man who just so happens to be completely friendless and live a life devoid of any males to speak of, Jimmy is your man.  Doug Harris (Josh Gad in a post-Olaf world) is one of these men.  He hires Jimmy after going too far lying to his wife about having a friend named Bic Mitchum.  Rather than tell his soon to be wife the truth, he hires Jimmy to play the part and be the best man for his wedding.  In addition, Doug needs six more men to round out the groomsmen.  Jimmy agrees (for a hefty price, of course), and the rest of the movie involves Doug and Jimmy trying to juggle all the lies in the air to get through the wedding.

The concept of the movie is promising, but the execution bungles the promise.  Too often the movie exists in sappy romantic-comedy land, where outlandish characters act far too ridiculously for their own good to service the needs of setting up a funny scenario to use in the trailers.  There are moments of genuine comedy, but it’s not long before it’s subsumed by ensuing antics.  It’s as if the movie is too scared to stick with the truth of the moment and instead falls back on rom-com clichés.  One sequence has Jimmy meeting the bride’s family for the first time.  The interplay between Josh Gad and Kevin Hart as they try to stay one step ahead of the bride’s family is amusing and fun, but it’s not long before poor Grandma is set on fire.  After she’s put out, the family takes the whole affair in surprising stride, and why wouldn’t they?  Instead of acting realistically, they exist solely as characters inside a movie. 

Another sequence has a dog clamping on Doug’s crotch during a bachelor party after an unfortunate overuse of peanut butter.  The bite has the group racing to the hospital only to be pulled over by a police officer.  Again, defying any realm of realism, the group pulls away from the cop to begin a chase scene that in any realistic situation would have ended in the entire group being caught and sent to jail, but they easily escape.  It’s disappointing because the movie will have pockets of truly funny moments, only to waste them fabricating overly absurd situations.  It’s a movie that might have gotten by audiences in 2002 when the script was first written, but in the age of romantic-comedies where clichés have been lambasted and turned on their heads, the movie feels out of touch and far too unfunny.

Kevin Hart’s energetic high-pitched shtick is turned down a gracious octave for the movie.  3/4ths through the movie he even gets to show a little range as his character Jimmy Callahan realizes he might be exactly like the friendless chumps who hire him.  It’s not Daniel Day-Lewis range, but it’s more range than Hart has traveled in movies like Ride Along or the Think Like a Man movies.  Paired with Gad the chemistry between the two is fun to watch, but remains overshadowed by the over-the-top sequences in the movie and cast of kooky characters that make up the rest of the groomsmen. 

The Wedding Ringer will entertain diehard fans of Kevin Hart and easily digestible comedies, and contains enough laugh-out-loud moments to merit a single viewing.  The viewing is probably done best on a lazy weekend afternoon for free on cable rather than the cost of driving to the theater and buying a ticket.  This is entertainment that asks nothing of its viewers, but constantly threatens to make the time it takes watching the movie not worth it.

I give The Wedding Ringer 2.5 jars of peanut butter out of 5.

Score:  2.5 out of 5

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Wil lives, breathes, and loves movies. On applications he will often list the movie theater as his second residence, and the usher as his emergency contact.
Twitter: @bilDoper

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