The Wedding Ringer
2.5 Waffles!

When a movie kicks off to the sounds of a Black Eyed Peas song, it’s a natural feeling to think it is time to run out of the theater and try to get a refund before the poison affects your mind. Try to remain calm, because, if you can get through the song, The Wedding Ringer will have you laughing.

Josh Gad stars as Doug Harris – a super nice and awkward guy who is getting married to the woman of his dreams, Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). She has planned the perfect, magical wedding, but Doug is having trouble lining up a best man and groomsmen because he doesn’t have any guy friends. That’s where Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart) comes into play.

Jimmy is the fast talking, smooth operator who, for pay, is willing to be the best man for guys who are getting married and cannot secure the services of a man who will step up for them. However, Doug’s situation is a bit more unique. Not only does he need Jimmy to be the best man, he needs Jimmy to line up seven groomsmen. And, he has 10 days to do so. Can Jimmy and Doug pull off the scam?

If your children recognize Gad as the voice of Olaf from Frozen, FOR GOD’S SAKE DO NOT LET THEM SEE THE WEDDING RINGER!!!!! This movie is a bit too R-rated for them. Heck, it was almost too R-rated for me!

That might be the only horrific warning I have to issue. Directed and written by Jeremy Garelick as well as co-written by Jay Lavender, The Wedding Ringer is a funny movie that only fails when it tries too hard to justify that R-rating, and when it attempts to get all sweet and nice because the team feels a duty to do so, rather than seeing the possibility naturally emerge from the material.

Hart proves he is ready to be the leading man in a role more reminiscent of Bill Murray than Rob Schneider. Hart isn’t the goofy, second banana, outrageous, silly clown in The Wedding Ringer. He is fantastic as the maestro of the circus, leading with a suave, confident, mischievous charm.

Meanwhile, Hart shares a nice chemistry with Gad as the two make us believe these mismatched dudes forced together by fate and money might actually become buddies as they survive insane situations and work together to pull off the impossible con. In faking a friendship, the two end up doing all of the things guys do as they get to know each other, and they like it!

Sadly, The Wedding Ringer fails when it tries to fit into a formula. The forced attempts at imposing sweetness and emotion are handled as subtly as a freight train. We are supposed to be witnessing a growing romance that involves all of two or three brief scenes, which is not enough for us to make that leap (this isn’t Vegas). The ending comes out of nowhere without enough believable foreshadowing, and, too often, Garelick and Lavender are relying on hateful, mean humor to get a laugh.

The material based on the situation and the growing relationship between Doug and Jimmy is fine enough on its own, so why dumb it down?

The Wedding Ringer is rated R for crude and sexual content, language throughout, some drug use and brief graphic nudity.