Best described as The Breakfast Club (1985) meets Wedding Crashers (2005), and exactly as tonally uneven and cliché-riddled as one might expect from such a concoction, Jeffrey Blitz’s Table 19 is a generally likable and ultimately forgettable comedy. Likability, unfortunately, is no substitute for depth, while whatever Table 19 manages to get right, it quickly loses and fumbles as its numerous paper thin characters go nowhere. Even attempts to take its story in unexpected directions — while welcome — never veers the narrative far enough away to feel truly original, instead it wallows in its own tropes.
The conceit here is that a group of disparate people are seated at the least desirable table at a wedding reception, far removed from the rest of the guests. They’ve essentially been banished, either for being unlikable relatives or plain weirdos. Included here is Eloise (Anna Kendrick) — the disgraced ex of the bride’s brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell, Everybody Wants Some!!) — who almost didn’t go, even setting her invitation on fire before deciding to put it out and send it in anyway.
The first chunk of the film takes place at the titular table, as the movie introduces the characters and we learn why, exactly, they’ve been stricken from the rest of the wedding guests. This is interesting in a cringy sort of way — there’s a certain awkwardness in the way these disparate characters are both forced to interact and the way in which the film isolates them. The film, however, does get out and move around (it’s not quite high concept enough to chain itself solely to the table) and becomes slowly less curious as time goes on.
I say this with the sense that Table 19 never does much to surpass its monumental OK-ness. The oddity of the potential of being a slightly experimental comedy quickly passes as the movie becomes more and more normal. The characters sort of wander off, and the plot does too. Nothing really happens once the settings shift and Table 19 slowly settles into convention. Most of this is the fault of the movie’s desire to turn into a pat rom-com cliché. What started off as a potential curio devolves into the usual.
Compacting things is how little work the film puts into creating fully formed characters. Early on, there is some strangeness to this hodgepodge collection of misfits, but Table 19 is disappointingly one-note. It wants to coast along on the likability of its performers (specifically Kendrick), but the material isn’t funny enough and the cast isn’t quite as good as Blitz and company believes. What it all makes for is a slow descent into mediocrity. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, drug use, language and some brief nudity. Now Playing at Carmike 10.