Table 19

Release: Friday, March 3, 2017

[Theater]

Written by: Jay and Mark Duplass

Directed by: Jeffrey Blitz

This is awkward for me because Table 19, a “dramatic” comedy written by the inimitable Duplass brothers about being low-priority wedding guests seated at the least desirable table at the reception, belongs at a rejects table of its own. Awkward because I want to like all Duplass-related films always but now I’m faced with the prospect of hating one.

Objectively their new, jointly penned blah-medy is a real misfire. It’s directed by Jeffrey Blitz, most notable for his contributions to latter seasons of The Office, which might have something to do with Table 19 having no personality whatsoever resembling anything Duplass-y. To their credit, the filmmakers assemble quite the impressive team of funny people —  Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Merchant, Tony Revolori, Wyatt Russell and June Squibb — and then, somewhat counterintuitively, they set about finding ways to make every one of them as unfunny as possible.

Eloise (Kendrick) was going to be the maid of honor at her “oldest” friend’s wedding but after being unceremoniously dumped via text message by Teddy (Russell), who happens to be the best man, she’s become persona non grata. She decides to attend anyway, finding her place at the dreaded back table, a table so far removed from the action “you can smell the bathroom.” Having been intimately involved in the planning of the reception, Eloise knows what being relegated to this table means. It means you are either a liability or you just suck. At being a person.

She shares this inside information with the other guests at the table, a decidedly oddball collection: There’s the Kepps (Robinson and Kudrow), a boring couple who run a diner together; Walter (Merchant), a weirdo who may or may not have just come straight from prison; Renzo (Revolori), a horny teen who can’t help but take terrible advice from his mother; and Jo (Squibb), a retired pot-smoking nanny. While none of them seem to have legitimate connections with the happy couple, only for the recently scorned does becoming a potential distraction seem like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Table 19 skulks about the banquet hall looking for something interesting to talk about, but finds precious little. The Duplass brothers have staked their reputations on an unusual ability to create something of substance out of what at first appears to be nothing. A film shot largely in a banquet hall tends to stretch the term ‘cinematic’ but then that’s the Duplass’ forte. What their screenplay doesn’t do is take risks. There’s nothing revelatory about any of the character’s backstories and Kendrick’s chemistry with Russell is the kind of bad that we just don’t need to talk about. Plus the comedy is incessantly forced — uncertain and ineffectual at the best of times. The whole thing plays out like a father-of-the-bride toast that goes to some awkwardly inappropriate places, remains unfunny for the majority and that ultimately drags on for too long.

Recommendation: Utterly forgettable farcical comedy forgets to pack the comedy. There’s good reason you probably have not heard of Table 19; it’s the movie no one invited into their area cineplexes. (Now, if you’re wondering where my Kong review is, blame it on three consecutively sold-out screenings for the delay. I hope to have one up sometime in the next decade.)

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 87 mins.

Quoted: “Hello my god. Hi, I’m Renzo. I have achieved puberty and I am in a rock band.”

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

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9 thoughts on “Table 19

    • Coming from the brothers Duplass, it’s a strange word to use but it fits for this one. Unfortunately.

  1. God, it took me second to realise that the image at the top was the actual movie poster. Heh, that already annoyed me, sounds like one to skip for sure. I really must watch some Duplass stuff tho, since you hold them in such high regard. I’ve only seen Duplass in Creep and The League… that’s it. =/

    Where do you reckon I should start?

    • Oooh, man. Lots to recommend. I really really dug Safety Not Guaranteed. Definition of quirk, its him and Aubrey Plaza who plays a really quite normal girl compared to the airheads and weirdos she typically goes for. It’s also probably one of mark Duplass’ more fully realized roles. I’d start with that and then check out Jeff, who Lives at Home, something he directed and starring Jason Segel. It’s odd and sort of awkward but you’ll pretty much know whether you like his stuff or not through those two. I’m less big a fan of The League honestly, I got bored of that show pretty quick. He plays more of a jock too and it’s odd seeing him in that role. He’s likable enough though. More tolerable than anyone else in that group! Creep was also pretty good. Really dug his turn in that one. And apparently it ain’t over yet, looks like he’s working on a follow-up to that.

      • Thanks man! Keen to see what this guy has done, not long ago I only knew him as the guy from the League hehe.

        And don’t deny it, I know you love The League. Embrace it! 😉 Especially Nick Kroll, you’re his biggest fan!!

        • Ha, yeah Nick Kroll showed me he has some acting chops in Loving, but otherwise that guy is totally forgettable to me. Totally don’t get his appeal at all. Or 99% of the actors in The League really lol

          • yeah I lost interest in that show a while ago. I liked it though. I mainly found Taco funny… at times, but there was some good stuff in the first three seasons. Plus Fantasy Football was literally something I’d never heard of… so that odd premise actually served as a way to capture my interest. It was funny to watch these guys be so obsessed over a hobby I’d literally never heard of before!

  2. I’m feeling increasing anger at romantic comedies / dramas that miss the whole damn point of the genre. Ugh. This sounds boring and terrible.

    Hope you get to see Kong soon!

    • It is boring and it’s worse because it’s written by two guys who almost always guarantee quality. I don’t really know what happened here but Table 19 is just so . . . off.

      Looking forward to Kong. Just got snowed in under 20 inches of snow so it could be another few days before I can even tunnel my way out of here to get to a theater!

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