19 QUESTIONS FOR TABLE 19
Review by Paul Preston
Before I ask these questions, let me…um…set the table for you. In Table 19, Anna Kendrick is Eloise, a young lady who’s broken up with the guy who will be Best Man at her best friend Francie’s wedding. So, she can’t go to the wedding ‘cause she’ll risk seeing her ex, right? But she goes anyway, ‘cause it is her best friend, after all. But upon arriving, she’s seated at Table 19, with all the other social misfits. So…questions…
1. Movie, why do you never set the table quite like I just did? There is little to no evidence in this film that Eloise is a best friend of Francie. Not until they finally have a scene together did I really remember that apparently they’re best friends. You’d think Francie, despite her Best Man breaking up with Eloise, would at least be gracious, go out of her way to make the uncomfortable situation less so, but there’s just NO interaction, and it’s odd, Movie.
2. Why is Stephen Merchant’s Walter invited in the first place? I get that family is family and probably should get an invite to the wedding, but Walter, just out of prison, is so hated by every one of the family members, HATED, that you’d think they’d make an exception. They really convinced me to also not like Stephen Merchant, which is damn near impossible.
3. Why does the banter and behavior between Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson’s married couple seem playful at the top of the movie? Turns out they actually hate each other (a lot of hate going on around here), but when they gleefully flip each other off, it felt like it does when you do that with one of your best friends. Odd set up.
4. Why did you deliver another awkward set-up like that mid-movie? June Squibb’s character blurts out fact about Eloise that got a small chuckle out of me – “Can’t you see she’s pregnant?!”. I thought it was old lady rambling, she was way off base, done for a laugh. Turns out it was true – she was right. Odd set up that left me with a disappointing plot point reveal that robbed me of a small chuckle.
5. Why would these guests become friends? The movie brings the characters together at Table 19 without any fun, as if the movie felt compelled to be snarky and detached to fulfill some indie film requirement. Then, later they become friends and pontificate about life, and the switch isn’t convincing. There’s one moment where all the characters barge in on the ladies room to make sure Eloise is OK, and I just didn’t know why they’d all do that, no bonding or care between the characters prefaced it. This, like most moves the film and characters make, is forced.
6. Why couldn’t we get Margo Martindale on screen? As the voice of Tony Revolori’s mom, constantly calling him throughout the wedding to see if he’s met a girl, she’s hilarious. Maybe getting her on screen might’ve helped…maybe?
7. What kept the Duplass Brothers, who wrote the story, from writing the screenplay? Might’ve helped…maybe?
8. Why can’t we get more Andy Daly? More Andy Daly = your project is better.
9. Do you regret not going full-farce? Pretty much none of the jokes hit here, and when the heart goes south, too, there is left behind a missed opportunity.
10. If Craig Robinson falls down in the woods, does it get a laugh? No. This happens once for no reason, and it’s awkward.
11. Can we get a movie about the band? The wedding band plays ‘80s hits the whole movie long and, in the sparse dialogue they get, they seem like nihilists. Table 20, please.
12. Why does June Squibb suddenly realize…(these lines have been redacted because they contain spoilers)…and that makes everything OK as far as the Best Man goes? Were there no other events in his life that made him redeemable?
13. Why the slapstick with the cake? The film didn’t need another underdeveloped tone.
14. Since there’s just one event that keeps Eloise from going off with a wedding crasher, are we to believe she’s so shallow that if it weren’t for that event, she’d really be with him?
15. Did you know this is the fourth collaboration between Anna Kendrick and cinematographer Ben Richardson? (I may have set myself up for too many questions)
16. Can we get more Becky Ann Baker, too? She plays the bride’s mom and ends up only being used (as other wedding scenes are) in interstitials to the main action.
17. Again, we’re not supposed to like the bride and groom, are we?
18. Where can I rent The Breakfast Club, for a better tale of misfits engaging with and uplifiting each other?
19. Can I have my money back?
Directed by: Jeffrey Blitz
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Run Time: 87 Minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures