“The Wedding Ringer”
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for crude humor, pervasive profanity, coarse sexuality and brief graphic nudity
Running time: 101 minutes
Distributor: Screen Gems
Doug Harris (Josh Gad) and Gretchen Palmer (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) are putting the finishing touches on their impending wedding. Trouble is the socially-challenged groom has yet to find a best man and they’re set to exchange vows in just 10 days.
He’s been rejected by every acquaintance he’s approached, receiving rude responses ranging from “I thought you died” to “I didn’t even invite you to my wedding.” So, Doug decides to hide his awkward predicament from his fiancée, since he’s too embarrassed to admit that he doesn’t have any friends.
Instead, he hires a professional best man, Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), along with seven strangers to serve as his groomsmen. Can these guys get to know Doug well enough in a week to convince Gretchen and members of the wedding party that they’re long-lost friends?
That is the preposterous point of departure of “The Wedding Ringer,” an unlikely-buddies comedy marking the directorial debut of Yale University graduate Jeremy Garelick. Provided you are not offended by and are willing to suspend disbelief about the farfetched setup, you’ll actually be richly rewarded by the hilarious, bad boy hijinks about to ensue.
Most of the laughs emanate from the attempt by that motley assortment of unsavory characters to impersonate refined, white-collar types ranging from a podiatrist, to a principal, to a lawyer, to a professor. The sham of a best man adopts the alias “Bic Mitchum” and passes himself off as a priest.
And although he proves convincing at faking bromance, he warns Doug not to develop feelings because, “You’re not buying a new friend. You’re hiring a best man.” But despite this strictly business understanding, coldhearted Jimmy gradually warms to the goofy groom and the two somehow bond anyway.
That unexpected development is what ultimately redeems “The Wedding Ringer’s otherwise pretty repugnant premise. After all, how much hope could there really be for a marriage, if a groom would opt to stage such an elaborate scheme rather than simply explain the situation to his bride-to-be?
Check your brain at the box office, and motor-mouthed Kevin Hart, surrounded by a talented cast of seasoned comedians, will keep you in stitches for the duration of a decidedly-lowbrow, politically-incorrect misadventure.