REVIEW: “TABLE 19” (2017) Fox Searchlight

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Director Jeffrey Blitz and The Duplass Brothers writing team takes the approach with this one that I know many wedding guests would prefer – skip the wedding and head straight to the reception. Another wise move is assembling a very talented ensemble of funny folks. This cast proves they can get a laugh from dialogue and moments that would probably otherwise not elicit much of an audience reaction because frankly, it’s only the fact that they are talented that makes it happen.

The initial set-up drags a bit as we are introduced to the characters that will soon enough populate the dreaded Table 19 at the reception. Tony Revolori is Renzo, the longing for love high schooler who might be a bit too close to his mother (voiced by Margo Martindale). Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson are Bina & Jerry Kepp, a mostly unhappily married couple who own and run a diner together. June Squibb is Jo Flanagan, the bride’s long-forgotten nanny who sees and knows more than most. Stephen Merchant plays the outcast nephew/cousin Walter Thimple, who has been recently released from his prison sentence for white collar crime. Lastly we have Anna Kendrick as Eloise McGarry, the fired maid of honor and former girlfriend of the bride’s brother Teddy (Wyatt Russell), who also happens to be the best man and is now dating the new maid of honor Nikki (Amanda Crew)
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This is the island of misfit wedding guests known as Table 19, and purposefully placed in the back corner as far as possible from the family and the other more ‘favoured’ guests. Of course we know immediately that this Team Reject will unite for some uplifting purpose at some point. Comedic timing in a group setting can often come across on screen as forced, and it’s a kudos to the cast that can bypass that..somewhat. Stephen Merchant is our shining star here on that note with his droll Brit humour.

Make no mistake though, this is Anna Kendrick’s movie. She plays Eloise as we would imagine Anna Kendrick in this real life situation. Sure, a wedding reception is low-hanging fruit for comedy, but it’s the third act where Kendrick comes up with comedy drawn from emotional pain, because we’ve all been there and thankfully can look back and laugh at it. The melo-dramatic moments that creep in are oh-so-predictable, but that doesn’t mean it’s all lost. The scenes with Kendrick and Russell are best at the emotional part, but not enough so that it would really leave you wishing for more. In actuality that’s where this film slips up. I was hoping for more comedy, less emotional drama and while we get about a 2/3 – 1/3 ratio of drama to comedy, I wish it would have gone the direction of more laughs as the emotional front isn’t enough to sustain the film as a whole.
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Don’t worry though, the film features the required wedding cake mishap, a flirtatious hot-Brit wedding crasher named Huck with a secret of his own (Thomas Cocquerel) and a drunken mother of the bride (Becky Ann Baker) singing karaoke to Etta James’ “At Last”. It’s designed to be a crowd-pleaser, and while it doesn’t quite step up enough to really down and out laugh, it does somewhat succeed as rom-com-ish with a blend of silly, cute, and emotional tugs. Just not enough laughs.

Grade: C-
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Media Review Screening: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
Nationwide Release: Friday, March 3, 2017

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REVIEW: “EVERYBODY WANTS SOME” (2016) Paramount Pictures

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“Everybody Wants Some” consists of little more than film of a bunch of overly-competitive jocks joking with each other, partying, and trying to get laid over the course of three days before school starts.

With the countdown on, the opening of the film doesn’t even attempt to describe what’s going to happen and the end of the film barely describes what happened beforehand.

The cast of the film (i.e., the 12 guys who make up the group of athletes) Nesbit (Austin Amelio), McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), Jake (Blake Jenner), Roper (Ryan Guzman), Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), Finnegan (Glen Powell), Plummer (Temple Baker), Dale (J. Quinton Johnson), Beuter (Will Brittain), Jay (Juston Street), Brumley (Tanner Kalina), and Coma (Forrest Vickery) are baseball players, yet there is no baseball played until the very end. They are basically just on one big continual lookout for stimulus in the largest and tiniest things…and really whatever kind of stimulus they can get their hands on whether it be getting stoned, constantly drunk or high.
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Story-wise, it unfolds over almost every part of the 80’s era, which is, as far as I could tell, undefined yet each night takes us to a different flavor of the time: disco, punk, you name it…which makes the soundtrack very listenable..and the best part of this lackluster film.

Featuring bad frat-boy dialogue or a narrative that tries to hard with a cast of guys that look to be in their late 20’s & early 30’s vs. college age, this is Linklater’s new film and his signature style slightly suffering from the post-Boyhood effect with people noticeably walking out within 20-30 minutes. As the lives and summers of eternal youth unfold: partying, billiards, male competition, table tennis, loves, pinball machines, pranks, disco, dance music. And of course girls, all about the girls. For the boys “this is the best day of their lives – until tomorrow.”
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This is not even a close comparison to Dazed & Confused which is a classic and as with most Linklater movies..they tend to run an hour to long ~ this one is no exception.

Grade: D
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Review Screening: Monday, March 28, 2016 ~ Courtesy LAFILM-TV
In limited release ~ Friday, March 30,2016 ~ Nationwide Release: Friday, April 8, 2016