—By Katherine Chen & Michelle Xu—

Jeremy Garelick’s latest movie, The Wedding Ringer, although classified as a romantic comedy, really contains no romance at all.  A better label would be “bromantic satire,” given the way the film paints the budding friendship between Doug Harris (Josh Gad) and Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), which starts when Doug hires Jimmy to be the best man at his wedding.  Despite this creative concept, the ending and the thematic development are poorly executed, falling back into old clichés and concluding with a bewildering, abrupt finale.

The Wedding Ringer begins with the planning for Doug’s wedding.  Everything goes smoothly, until the time comes for Doug to pick his groomsmen and best man.  Unfortunately, Doug has no friends.  He eventually finds himself receiving help from a company that specializes in helping lonely, friendless grooms like himself.  As the story progresses, Doug and his new best man, Jimmy, gradually get to know each other and become good friends, resulting in a humorous and heartwarming bromance.

Although Doug is the main character, Jimmy undergoes more character development than the protagonist himself.  While both characters evolve to realize their true loneliness, only Jimmy is clearly shown to have changed his mentality.  Doug’s emotional growth is much more subtle and all too easy to miss.  Additionally, several other characters, like Jimmy’s secretary, Doris, have very sentimental lines and are never seen again after their dialogue.  It would have been nice for Garelick to have followed up on how these people played a role in the overall plot.

Moreover, the whole ending seems very rushed.  The wedding is turned upside down at the very last minute, leaving us with an unrealistic scenario.  The heavy murmurs of “did that really just happen?” in the theater are proof of The Wedding Ringer’s faulty closure.

But can we please just address the comedic aspect of this movie?  It was hilarious.  The film contains an abundance of well-placed lines to keep us continuously laughing.  Hart brings his character to life with everything from his signature facial expressions to the colorful inflections in his voice.  Every actor’s jokes build on each other’s dialogue, so no one line stands out as an obvious attempt at humor.  A desperate groom pleads for the impossible, crying that “there’s a name for it!”, only to be shot down by Jimmy: “There’s also a name for a horse with a horn on its head.  It’s called a unicorn.  Don’t mean I can get you one.”  I won’t be forgetting that line any time in the future; props to the writing team.

However, this is not to say that all comical parts are entirely necessary.  Several potentially funny situations seemed forced, like the best man setting a grandma on fire, or the bride-to-be dramatically dropping her phone after a sudden realization.  These flawed moments, however clichéd, are still acceptable in the big picture when they are hidden under the amusing banter between Doug and his interactions with those around him.

In the end, The Wedding Ringer doesn’t deliver as expected.  It might have been an entertaining movie, but if you’re looking for a film with substantial plot and character development, you ought to search elsewhere.

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