The word “embarrassment” is far too praiseworthy for Table 19, a decidedly unworthy cinematic offering. Just what were or weren’t the filmmakers thinking in compiling this mother-lode of tripe?
Ex-maid of honour Eloise McGarry (Anna Kendrick) – having been relieved of her duties after being unceremoniously dumped by the best man via text – decided to hold her head up high and attend her oldest friend’s wedding. You see, that so-called dear friend is the best man’s sister. As it is, Eloise finds herself at the “random” table in the back of the ballroom with a disparate group of strangers, most of whom should have known to just send their regrets. Table 19 is filled with the people who had to be invited, but who no one actually expected to attend. There is the bride’s former nanny, some random business associates of her father, a disreputable relative and so on.
The film, which takes place over a single day, centres on Eloise, who is there to confront the man who broke her heart and she arrives with a sizeable chip on her shoulder. The writer/director is Jeffrey Blitz, whose debut film Spellbound was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
In short, Table 19 is a screw-up about a screw-up and while some of you might consider that apt, I, for one, don’t. Awkward should be about moments – surely not virtually the entirety of the movie. Are we meant to love or loathe those seated at table 19, let alone the peripheral characters? Who knows and who cares … because I certainly didn’t.
For Anna Kendrick and Lisa Kudrow et al to have lowered themselves to this level suggests to me that they didn’t see on paper what a train wreck this would turn out to be. Either that, or their judgment was, on this occasion, seriously flawed. Many of the characters are not only quirky and kooky, but just plain dumb – an utter waste of time and space. The script was flawed, the direction lacking and the timing was off. It was tortuous to watch … and then, to add insult to injury, the filmmakers dared to present us with a glib Hollywood ending.
Blitz spent two years working on the screenplay before production began, with the story evolving and changing, characters coming and going. I wish he hadn’t bothered and all the characters had just left. Table 19 is to be avoided at all costs. Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Rated M, it scores a 2 out of 10.
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Amanda Crew, Lisa Kudrow
Release Date: 20 April 2017
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television