Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 16, 2015)
After an active 2014 in which he made four movies, Kevin Hart continues his quest for world domination with 2015’s The Wedding Ringer. As the film opens, Doug Harris (Josh Gad) prepares to marry Gretchen Palmer (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting).
However, Doug hits a snarl: he has no close male friends so he lacks a wedding party. Doug discovers the existence of “Best Man Inc.”, a company run by Jimmy Callahan (Hart). Jimmy gets faux friends to help his clients pull off successful nuptials.
One caveat comes with this arrangement: Jimmy considers it all to be business, so no friendships are allowed. We follow Doug’s time with Jimmy and all the shenanigans that lead up to the wedding.
Is it a spoiler to state that Jimmy eventually violates his policy and becomes pals with Doug? Probably not – I wrote this part of the review before I got 10 minutes into the flick, so these developments should be obvious to anyone who’s ever seen a movie.
The eventual evolution of the Jimmy/Doug partnership doesn’t become the only predictable aspect of Ringer. Instead, it’s just one trite, tired part of a trite, tired movie.
Other than the movie’s basic premise itself, nothing creative emerges in this stinker. As much as the film tries to mock/subvert other wedding-based stories, it lacks the wit to make these stabs succeed.
Really, Ringer gives us little in terms of plot. Instead, it mostly provides a series of gags vaguely connected by an overall theme. Sure, some trite character development occurs along the way, but make no mistake: the “plot” exists solely to throw attempted comedy at us.
Accent on “attempted”, as few laughs materialize across the movie’s 101 minutes. With the talent at the film’s disposal, the occasional chuckle arises, but we find far too few of them to sustain us, especially since the filmmakers mistake crassness and idiocy for hilarity.
Essentially Wedding Crashers mixed with There’s Something About Mary, Ringer lacks much form of creativity or subtlety. It substitutes crudeness for comedy, with idiotic scenes such as one in which a dog fellates Doug – and develops lockjaw. Eep.
Ringer also sacrifices logic whenever the film wants to toss out more of its comedic meanderings. For instance, Doug and Jimmy perform a series of elaborate dances together at a reception. In the final film, though, Doug resists Jimmy’s attempts to get him on the floor.
Why? So we can be “surprised” by Doug’s skill as a dancer. Of course, anyone who saw the movie’s trailer will already know how this scene unfolds, but even if we ignore that, Doug’s protests make no sense. Why does he refuse to dance when he’s so good at it?
The actors seem game and attempt to amuse us, but they fail. Perhaps Hart will eventually develop range as a performer, but he’s not there yet, and this means Jimmy just offers another take on the standard “Kevin Hart” movie personality.
That means he seems somewhat miscast. Hart’s comedic charisma manages to carry him to a degree, but the role of Jimmy really needs someone with more versatility – think Eddie Murphy, an actor who can pull off different personalities. As played by Hart, all of Jimmy’s “characters” feel pretty much the same.
At its core, Ringer had the potential to become an enjoyable comedy. Unfortunately, it lacks the wit and cleverness to give us anything other than tacky gags and a meandering narrative.
Footnote: stick around through the end credits if you want to see a little extra footage.