I always say there are only three things you really need at a wedding: good food, good music, and a few nice photos for posterity. Mind you, I don’t actually like weddings all that much, and have used every excuse to avoid having one of my own (sorry, Mum). I’m hardly an authority on staging the perfect nuptials, but I’ve been to enough shitty weddings to weigh in on Jeffery Blitz’s Table 19, which made me resent being invited to the screening to the point where I sat there inwardly screaming, “Why didn’t I just say no and send a gift?!”
The film is like a 90-minute speech by some asshole drunk relative, replete with poorly-timed, out of place anecdotes, delivered before a room full of awkwardly silent guests who take the opportunity to add doggy ear stickers to selfies, or hack away diligently at leathery chateaubriand. In the same way that every couple tries to buck trends or make their wedding somehow unique (they all fail; bah, humbug, etc.), Table 19 tries to subvert the conventions of the wedding comedy but it just isn’t happening. Sure, the wedding comedy is a by-rote series of calamities and resolutions, but the fact that I can set my watch by each of them is what makes them work. The pacing of Table 19 is off to begin with, so without the usual markers (derailed ceremony, inappropriate revelation during toast, etc.), and with plot points that frequently pull the characters away from the wedding, I often had no idea where in the story’s progression we actually were.
Your music was the only tolerable part of the film, your awesome pop covers the only thing diverting my attention from the numbing sensation of my butt falling asleep in my seat. Child of the 80s that I am, I don’t consider a wedding a success unless I hear at least one Cyndi Lauper song*, and you nailed it. As any good wedding band or DJ knows, wedding music can’t just be a random playlist or string of requests – there is a certain progression required when curating the perfect program that will keep the guests entertained and on their feet - repetitive, but somehow never stale. Table 19 tries to mess with the wedding comedy formula, and much like playing I’ve had the Time of My Life at the beginning of the reception or cueing up Gin and Juice in the background during the father of the bride’s toast, it makes no goddamn sense.
As much as I may not like going to weddings (which I probably won’t have to worry about after any of my altar-bound friends or family read this), I was sorely disappointed here, because I do enjoy a good wedding comedy. I actually like that they are formulaic as hell, so Table 19 ultimately suffers from trying to fix something that ain’t broke.
*1 star awarded for delightful Cyndi Lauper cover.