Rob Reviews "Table 19"
One of the biggest complaints that a lot of people (including myself) have had with Hollywood in the last number of years is the lack of originality in story. The entertainment industry has truly been the pioneers of recycling, whether it is through remakes, reboots, or even just telling the same story with different names on the characters. On the surface, “Spellbound” and multiple episode of “The Office” director Jeffrey Blitz’s “Table 19” seems the same way with the story of Eloise (Anna Kendrick), who is debating on attending the wedding of her oldest friend. Until two months prior, she was the maid of honor before she was dumped via text by the Best Man and the bride’s sister, Teddy (Wyatt Russell). She ultimately decides to take the ferry across the river to the resort where the wedding is being held, but finds herself at the infamous Table 19, where people have been placed that were invited to the wedding but not expected to actually show up. Still trying to get over Teddy, she also meets up with a group of people dealing with their own problems, including struggling married couple the Kepps (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), the bride’s childhood nanny, Jo (June Squibb), nephew of the bride’s father and recent parolee, Walter (Stephen Merchant), and awkward teenager going stag Rezno (Tony Revolori). Together, they are going to get through this thing one way or another.
It would be very easy for this to be one of those films that could be used to simply appeal to the twenty-something rom-com crowd and simply pander to their sensibilities, but “Table 19” is actually more than that. When a script is put in the hands of the very successful Duplass Brothers, they tend to know how to add a little something extra to it that makes their stories next-level, and this is no exception. What I truly feel I ended up with was less of a syrupy story of learning what love is put under a soundtrack of whatever piano ballad is popular this week and more simply “The Breakfast Club” at a wedding reception. Really only using the music being played in its setting by three-piece ‘80s cover band The Oh Hellos (who really do some fun work here), this story is so engaging that it has its own feel that even features some nice turns that can be considered untraditional.
In the interest of full disclosure, my unhealthy crush on Anna Kendrick is well-documented, but putting that aside, she really brings Eloise to life in a way that is very every-woman, and that connection is imperative for the ninety-minute journey that her character takes the audience on. And even though she is the lead, her tablemates are just as important to not only the main plot but also how their individual story arcs contribute to that story, and each one does a great job here. There is a great balance between Merchant’s mastery of awkward, Squibb’s nostalgia, hope, and pride, Revolori’s need for social acceptance, and Kudrow and Robinson’s struggle to bring back their honeymoon phase without letting the other one know they are trying to bring back their honeymoon phase. There is also a good level of relatability to the reception itself as well to a point where almost everyone will find at least one element that will either make them laugh out loud or shake their head at the behavior of the guests.
“Table 19” is truly the first great date movie of 2017 because it is not one of those films that cater to either side of the date. Whether it is a first date that can help break the ice a bit, a group date where everyone can have a great laugh discussing it afterwards, or just having a night out with the one you live, this film is simply a great time at the movies that will be one of those that will be referenced, watched, and enjoyed for years to come.