Table 19 is the table in the far back corner of the wedding, assembled from people who don’t fit at any other table. These are the people who were invited out of politeness and should have RSVP’d ‘No’. How then, did the bride’s oldest friend Eloise (Anna Kendrick) end up in this table of disparate strangers? As the movie unfolds, we discover how each of these characters came to be at the wedding and at the pariah table that is Table 19.
I love ensemble comedies and with the adorable Anna Kendrick at the helm, I was excited to see this movie. With such talented character actors as Lisa Kudrow (Friends), Stephen Merchant (The Office) and Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as the supporting line up, I was confident it was going to be hilarious. Unfortunately Table 19 didn’t deliver on the laughs. Its execution is a mix of comedy, drama and romance, but sadly it fails to convincingly sell itself in any of these genres.
The comedy is very hit and miss. For each hilarious scene (and there are a few) there are three that fall flat, or are even uncomfortable to watch. The movie seems to be attempting a realistic, slice of life style with relatable characters, and some of the characters at the table slot neatly into this genre. The other characters are larger than life and wholly unbelievable, spilling into the realm of absurdity. The net result feels messy and leaves you unsure about how to react to some of the scenes. I’d find myself asking, should I dislike this character because they did something outrageously inappropriate, or brush it off as part of the humour?
The drama suffers from the same issue in that it’s hard to switch your brain from glossing over absurdities, to empathising with someone’s pain. This is exacerbated by the lack of chemistry between the main cast. They’re strangers from different walks of life, forced together in a strained and unnatural setting. Some of them are somewhat normal, and some are clearly oddballs who would be out of place in almost any setting. This results in awkward interactions between characters who have no points of intersection and leaves the audience without an anchor point through which to relate with any of the characters. It’s hard to believe that any real fondness could grow between this eclectic mix of characters.
I think Table 19 would have been a better movie if it skipped the romance angle entirely. There’s two contenders for Eloise’s affections and, without giving away any spoilers, she doesn’t seem to have any chemistry with either of them. Throughout the movie, two surprises are revealed that should have had the audience shipping for one of the two leading men, but I didn’t buy their romance. In a realistic, slice of life movie there was an alternative that would have been much sweeter and in keeping with the complexities of real life where things don’t always work out as expected, but people can find less traditional happiness.
Table 19 is a movie that had great promise had it been executed more expertly, it could have delivered great things. Instead, it’s messy and pulls the audience in too many different directions. There is a soul hiding deep in this movie, and I did find myself shedding a few tears at the end so it’s not entirely without merit, but I couldn’t recommend it to anyone as a good movie. If you love one of the members of the main cast, you may enjoy watching it for their contribution, but as an ensemble piece it just never quite comes together.