Title: Table 19
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, Tony Revolori, June Squibb, Stephen Merchant
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Story by: Jeffrey Blitz, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass
Released: OUT NOW
Just over a decade ago, in about 2004/2005, I went to the Edinburgh Film Festival and watched and reviewed a film called The Puffy Chair, written by and starring Mark Duplass. The film was about a guy called Josh whose Dad once had a big lazy-boy recliner - a puffy chair. Josh loved that damn chair, like it was his best friend or something and when his Dad finally got rid of it once it was old and worn Josh decides to go on a road trip to buy a new puffy chair from an ebay seller. Duplass tried to make a sentimental, uplifting film but what he actually created was tonally confused, lacking positivity and pretty boring. Duplass followed this up with several less than stellar films including Cyrus which at least featured several big name stars in Jonah Hill and Will Farrell.
Much like those films Table 19 lacks strong characterisation or witty, caustic dialogue, but again Duplass (and his director Blitz) has managed to attract big name stars namely Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, Tony Revolori, June Squibb, Stephen Merchant. Quite how I’m not sure because this isn’t a top quality film. The acting is good and the film is watchable, with a few decent laughs, but as a comedy it’s a bit light and as a drama it only has a few standout moments. It’s not worthy of its fairly impressive cast especially Kendrick and Merchant who are above this.
The storyline is too light and unsubstantial - a group of six strangers end up on the ‘randoms’ table at a wedding because they didn’t have the sense to politely decline the invite. Ex-maid of honour Eloise (Kendrick) was dumped by the best man and then dumped as maid of honour and ends up on the worst table.
June Squibb is Jo, the bride’s former nanny, Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson play a squabbling married couple who, in a sex-less marriage, may be on the verge of a break up. Stephen Merchant is a successful business man (or actually a fraudster). Tony Revolori is the weakest character - a sexually and socially awkward kid who has a better relationship with his Mum than anyone else. Besides Kendrick, the standout performer here is Merchant who gets a few good laughs and is also the heart of the film. Kudrow and Robinson fail to add anything to the film, lacking any verve.
The direction is steady and the production values are decent, but it’s basically a one location set-up so it’s not exactly an expensive or flashy production. The story takes a fairly predictable route and whilst it is a reasonable way to spend 90 minutes there are much better films out there. This film has taken a critical beating. It’s not as bad as some reviewers would have you believe, it’s a little different to the run of the mill romantic comedy with a few quirky moments, but its nothing special.