Have no regrets when you decline the invitation to Table 19, an ensemble comedy that replicates the experience of attending a wedding reception that’s memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Indeed, this lighthearted farce about a rogue table of guests is more effective in concept than execution, to the extent that it’s doubtful an open bar could even solve things.
The story begins with the arrival of Eloise (Anna Kendrick), a longtime friend of the bride who has been relegated to a table of extras at the back after being unceremoniously dumped by the best man (Wyatt Russell) just days earlier.
Her five tablemates have similar sad-sack stories, including the bride’s former nanny (June Squibb), a teenager (Tony Revolori) looking for love on the advice of his overbearing mother, a corporate ex-con (Stephen Merchant) who’s reluctant to reveal details, and a married couple (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow) who own a restaurant and generally seem unhappy with the state of their lives.
Details are gradually revealed, of course, within the confines of an uninspired screenplay by director Jeffrey Blitz (Rocket Science) that lacks many genuine surprises outside of some scattered sight gags and one-liners.
The set-up is amusing enough, with visits from reception staples such as the bad 1980s cover band, some oversharing strangers, clumsy pick-up lines and awkward photographers.
However, the script is overloaded with quirks and thinly sketched characters who do little to earn audience sympathy, even as the film reaches for more heartwarming material in its second half.
The wildly uneven film does capture a certain awkwardness within its character dynamics, even if that stems partially from an overall lack of depth. Still, the result is neither consistently charming nor poignant as it transitions into a half-hearted exploration of guilt and redemption. As the proceedings start to resemble a group-therapy session, all of the bickering and dirty laundry becomes more obnoxious than endearing.
At least at an actual wedding reception, you get a slice of cake, some free booze and plenty of weird selfies that will lose meaning the next day. In the case of Table 19, you only get to spend time with the worst guests in the room.
Rated PG-13, 87 minutes.