Rub­ber chicken and flat cham­pagne

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - DON­ALD CLARKE

TA­BLE 19 Di­rected by Jef­frey Blitz. Star­ring Anna Ken­drick, Craig Robin­son, June Squibb, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Mer­chant. 12A cert, lim­ited re­lease, 87 min There is, surely, no need to ask where the idea came from for this so-so en­sem­ble com­edy. Al­most ev­ery­body has been to a wedding. What bet­ter way of bring­ing to­gether a small body of comic char­ac­ters than plac­ing them round the same ta­ble at such an event?

Anna Ken­drick plays the former maid of hon­our who was de­moted af­ter break­ing up with the best man. June Squib was, long ago, nanny to the bride. Stephen Mer­chant plays a dis­tant rel­a­tive who cur­rently lives in a half­way house af­ter serv­ing time for em­bez­zle­ment. And so on.

Shot in the flat, ugly style we ex­pect from Du­plass broth­ers joints – the mum­blecore gu­rus cowrote the script – Jef­frey Blitz’s film is very much at home to the wretched­ness of weddings. The core char­ac­ters, ban­ished to a ta­ble near the lava­tory, can’t quite un­der­stand why they both­ered to at­tend. The blandly com­pe­tent 1980s band de­liv­ers an au­ral ex­pres­sion of des­per­a­tion. The food looks rub­bery. The Cham­pagne fails to sparkle.

Not ev­ery one of the char­ac­ters en­gages. Craig Robin­son and Lisa Kudrow bring noth­ing new to an ar­che­typal bit­ter cou­ple worn down by years of squab­bling. No­body will fail to guess Squib’s sup­posed se­cret. But Mer­chant is prop­erly funny as a man fail­ing mis­er­ably to dis­guise his un­happy past. And Ken­drick is such a whirl of en­ergy that she makes even this un­der­writ­ten role sparkle.

You’ve al­most cer­tainly had a worse time at a real wedding.

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