While ‘Table 19’ has its flaws, audiences will ultimately enjoy the film based on the solid performances of Anna Kendrick and Stephen Merchant.
The film centers around a group of people who are placed at the same table at a wedding because the bride didn’t know where to put them.We have Eloise (Anna Kendrick) who at one point was the maid of honor, but was replaced when the bride’s brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell) broke up with her. Next to her are the Kepp’s (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow) an Ohio couple who own a diner and seem to be headed towards a divorce. To the right, we have the bride’s former nanny Jo Flannagan (June Squibb) who love to tell everyone about what the kids were like as children. On the other end of the table, we have Renzo (Tony Revolori) and Walter (Stephen Merchant). Renzo is only at this wedding after his mom assured him that he’d be at the singles table and Walter is the “black sheep” of the family. Everyone at the table seems to have his or her secret, and we begin to see how these strangers’ lives start to intertwine with one another.
I loved seeing Anna Kendrick in a role that isn’t typical for her. In the trailer for Table 19, Eloise appears just to be a scorned ex-girlfriend who is looking for love. You quickly find out there is much more to her character than just being hurt. She has moments on the screen where she completely broke down, and it showed a layer of authenticity that was shocking.
The Duplass brothers constructed a balanced narrative that appeared to be like most rom-com’s but ends up being more of a character driven piece about self-worth.
Stephen Merchant is hysterical in the film. I imagine the Duplass brothers had to have written the part of Walter with only him in mind. Director Jeffrey Blitz had to enjoy seeing Merchant bring his physical comedy talents to the role. As much as Merchant is the perfect goofball/nerd on screen, his character radiates a warmth towards all the people at Table 19 because they are now “his friends.”
What Did Not Work
Why was Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow cast as a married couple? They had no chemistry at all, and their scenes appeared to be forced. Even their “fights” were rote and monotone. Anytime Mrs. Kudrow had to do something romantic with Mr. Robinson; she had the look of “Why me.” Craig Robinson is the guy who you cast in a comedic role in Hot Tub Time Machine and not the man who has to project being hurt on screen.
I felt that June Squibb was grossly underused in this film. Squibb is a wonderful actress and has demonstrated her prowess over the years. Nanny Jo has more to her storyline than just being the person who babysat the bride. She has a few poignant moments with Eloise where she helps her navigate the current turmoil in her life (remember no spoilers), and It just made me wonder if Nanny Jo should have been allowed to have more of a profound impact on her other table mates.
Table 19 is the type of film that critics like just to bash, and it’s quite frustrating. What were they expecting? Were they expecting this profoundly deep character study? The Duplass has crafted an enjoyable character driven film about self-worth. Eloise feels lost now that she’s single and facing something completely unexpected. While Walter is hilarious, he’s still dealing with the notion that no one in his family wants anything to do with him. Is the film perfect? No, but it’s an entertaining film that’s perfect for either a date night or a girls night out.