These days, there are three people whose mere presence on screen is enough to make me laugh. Will Ferrell is one, Melissa McCarthy is another. And Kevin Hart is the third. The material they’re given may not always be worthy of their talents (heck, it usually isn’t), but even delivering a joke that fizzles and dies, those three can (more often than not) get me rolling.
The Wedding Ringer is Hart’s latest, a hit-and-miss comedy– which thankfully hits more than misses. He plays Jimmy Callahan, a guy who discovered years earlier that there’s money to be made in farming himself out as Best Man to engaged guys who don’t have any friends. (We never really get a believable explanation, though, how guys with no friends manage to land themselves a lady, but… bygones.)
Josh Gad is Doug Harris, the friendless guy of the moment– 10 days shy of his marriage to Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). He has no best man, no groomsmen, and no prospects– when he learns about Callahan’s business. Callahan is clear, though, this isn’t a burgeoning friendship; it’s a business deal. When the wedding’s over, he takes his check and exits Doug’s life forever. (Can anyone smell the ending yet? How about if I mention that, as in most comedies these days, there’s an ill-advised, gooey third act where the funny person realizes his life isn’t that funny after all, and he decides it’s time to feel all the feels?)
There’s not much nuance in The Wedding Ringer. This is comedy along the lines of Old School and any Kevin James movie– broad as the day is long. In fact it’s a scant one or two poop jokes away from being a Farrelly Brothers movie. Among the comedy highlights are a flambéd grandma, a groomsman with three testicles, and a bachelor party fiasco involving peanut butter and a dog with lockjaw. But as lazy as some of the jokes are, there are just as many that find their mark and keep the movie afloat.
You’ll laugh. In fact, you’ll probably laugh more than you thought you would. And though that doesn’t excuse the wimpy, cop-out ending, it’s just enough to make The Wedding Ringer worth the trip down the aisle.