A poor schmuck, Doug Harris (Josh Gad), with no friends, hires a smooth-talking narcissist, Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), to be his best man. Only Doug doesn't just need one guy to stand up for him --- he actually has to have seven groomsmen, because his bride-to-be, Gretchen Palmer (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), is a spoiled brat who is having the wedding she wants --- and daddy (Ken Howard) can afford.
Written by Jay Lavender and Jeremy Garelick, who also directs, the premise isn't all bad --- kind of funny watching Hart as Callahan delivering well-rehearsed, meaningful reception toasts instead of most of the drivel you hear at weddings --- but the execution could use some tweaking. There is simply too much silliness and not enough big laughs.
What Jimmy has to pull off for Doug is termed a "Golden Tux" --- a full-press performance for himself, as best man Bic Mitchum, and the rest of the male bridal party, including names, backgrounds, group photos, etc. All of this is necessary to convince Gretchen and her family and friends that these guys have been buddies for years. According to Jimmy and his assistant, Doris Jenkins (Jenifer Lewis), this has never been done. But Doug has a lot of money and no qualms about lying to his future wife.
Which brings up just one of many flaws in this not-so-funny comedy. Jimmy has hired himself out all over LA as a best man, and no one has caught him in his duplicitous career? Seriously? And, what's a wedding film without the disastrous bachelor party? Standard, ridiculous stuff here --- especially dog licking peanut butter off of Doug's penis --- can't imagine what could go wrong there? And the car chase to the hospital --- don't even get me started.
Despite all of the aforementioned idiocy, there are a few bright and amusing scenes. Everyone is wondering how Doug managed to land Gretchen, and he explains in four words --- "I took her dancing." Turns out, Doug is an accomplished dancer as evidenced in an hysterical scene with him and Jimmy doing it up big at a reception they crash.
Unfortunately, other stupid, unnecessary additions like setting Granny (Cloris Leachman) on fire, and a touch football game, so Joe Namath could appear, further mar a script that had potential. But, hey, it's January, and this is a comedy. What were we actually hoping for?
Opinion: Wait For DVD
Anything and anybody is for hire these days, so why not a best man and a bunch of groomsmen for a guy getting married, with no friends to fill those roles? That's the premise of "The Wedding Ringer", starring Kevin Hart as Jimmy Callahan, who runs a successful business hiring himself out as the ultimate best man, and Josh Gad as Doug Harris, a nerdy, wealthy young man who is about to marry Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), the girl of his dreams.
Doug tries mightily to convince past acquaintances to be his best man, including one he hasn't seen since the ninth grade, but none agree to do it. When he turns to Callahan --- and price is no object --- he tells him he needs seven groomsmen to match the number of bridesmaids. But this constitutes a "Golden Tux" arrangement, according to Jimmy, something that has never been done before. On the other hand, $50,000 buys a lot of fake ushers, so Callahan agrees. He assumes the alias of Bic Mitchum, a military priest who is Doug's best friend.
What ensues is a mix of hits and misses in a film that's not as bad as it sounds. The seven groomsmen look like refugees from "The Dirty Dozen", and they actually constitute the funnier parts of the movie. One is a stud, with six-pack abs, who stutters (Alan Ritchson), another is an apprentice plumber (Jorge Garcia from "Lost"), a third is a balding Asian with three testicles (Aaron Takahashi), and so on.
Fortunately, "The Wedding Ringer" goes light on the bathroom humor, but there are enough silly moments to compensate for that. The father of the bride, Ed Palmer (Ken Howard), challenges Doug and his "friends" to a touch football game. This is nothing more than a vehicle for Joe Namath to show he can still throw a spiral ---- a needless and not very amusing episode.
There is no denying that Hart and Gad have on-screen chemistry, and the film even has some poignant moments as the two predictably become friends. Olivia Thurlby shines as Gretchen's sister/Maid of Honor, and 88-year-old Cloris Leachman, who has one fiery scene, is unrecognizable as Gretchen's grandmother.
Hart is a bundle of energy --- so is Gad, for that matter --- and they bring that to their roles with relish. The single best sequence in the movie has the pair dancing together at another wedding. They display some nifty moves, but then the film quickly devolves into forgettable fluff with a stupid chase scene.
For a January film, you could do worse. The team of editors actually do an exemplary job, and first-time feature director Jeremy Garelick has potential. As for Cuoco-Sweeting, the darling of TV's "The Big Bang Theory", she isn't provided with enough quality material to make anyone forget her character Penny from that show.
Opinion: Wait for DVD