The Wedding Ringer review

Josh Gad and Kevin Hart star in this surprisingly likeable romantic comedy with a twist

Yeah, yeah. I get it. I’m not supposed to like The Wedding Ringer. Rotten Tomatoes says it’s rubbish, plus it’s a sort-of-romantic-comedy that sticks to its formula and adds nothing to cinema. So derivative is it, it actually shares 15 characters with the title of The Wedding Singer. Where next? The Wedding Swinger? The Wedding Dinger? Don’t bother registering the URLs, I’m ahead of you.

The Wedding Ringer, though, shares a bit in common with The Hangover films (don’t run away yet), and a bit in common with that Jennifer Lopez movie where she organises weddings for other people, but never one for herself. Don’t worry. Just teasing. I know what it’s called. It’s called… (two ticks)… The Wedding Planner! See? It’s all planners, ringers and singers.

This one centres on two men. One of them, Josh Gad, is getting married, but has no friends, so doesn’t have a best man, and doesn’t have a wedding party, and somehow – in that way that only happens in movies – he’s neglected to mention this to his bride. Good news, though. If you’re very rich – which Gad’s character is – then you can hire the services of Kevin Hart’s Jimmy (the other leading man). He’s a rent a best man. One of those who can organise wedding stuff for other people but never… oh, hang on. We’ve sort of done that.

It’s a wedding movie viewed from the male side, and as a result, The Wedding Ringer gets one of the shallowest, soul-destroying female lead roles in a films of this ilk. Remember how in Sleepless In Seattle, Meg Ryan’s boyfriend was conveniently disposable? Kaley Cuoco-Sweeing gets an even worse deal. Her character, Gretchen, is, well, let’s just go with ‘unpleasant’.

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Not that Gad’s, ultimately, is too much nicer. It’s a couple getting married on a comfortable bedding of bullshit, and both are actively complicit in that.

Still, at least Gad’s Doug Harris gets the screentime to be something else. And it’s when he’s building his relationship with his new bought in best friend, Jimmy, that the film works.

To clarify: it still huffs and puffs through the motions, and there’s a random American Football game and a stop more than an ending to contend with. But The Wedding Ringer lives or dies on whether it makes you laugh.

And it made me laugh. Kevin Hart, in an instant, makes you wish he’d got one of The Hangover roles, as I was left feeling that he’s far better at making something out of slight material than the lead trio there. But Gad too is far game. At one point, I even forget I was listening to Olaf from Frozen, such is his commitment to physical comedy in particular.

Oh sure, Rotten Tomatoes is right. The narrative veers between utterly predictable to a little creepy. Characters drift in and out, as if it’s a sketch show rather than a movie. But director Jeremy Garelick, who co-wrote the script with Jay Lavener, knows his way around comedy. He finds laughs, he clearly trusts Gad and Hart, and – even though it feels longer – he stops the film before it gets to an hour 50.

So shoot me. I thought The Wedding Ringer was funny, and I quite liked it. It’s pretty front-loaded, and the comedy is low-brow. But that’s okay. I’m low-brow too. And I thought this was a solid, funny piece of puff.

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The Wedding Ringer is out in UK cinemas on 20th February

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3 out of 5