On paper, Table 19 might have sounded like an intriguing concept – a group of strangers who are obviously pariahs are stuck together at a table during a wedding and they must each figure out how they came to be seated there. It also helps that those characters are played by the likes of Anna Kendrick, June Squibb, Craig Robinson, Lisa Kudrow, Tony Revolori and Stephen Merchant, all likable. So, why is it that, for at least the first two-thirds of the film, it feels so flat?
While there are reasons why the various characters aren’t wanted at the scene of the wedding by some of the minor characters, the problem with Table 19 is that, at times, it appears that the actors don’t appear to want to be there either.
The characters are mostly threadbare – a jilted young woman with a secret (Kendrick), a former nanny who has been forgotten (Squibb), a bickering couple (Robinson and Kudrow), a young man looking for female attention (Revolori) and a prisoner who has been – let’s say, surprisingly – let out to attend the wedding. If anything keeps the film chugging along, it’s the personalities of the various actors portraying them.
Much of the film’s drama revolves around Kendrick’s Eloise, who has been dumped by the bride’s brother, Teddy (Wyatt Russell) and wants to either get back at him or get back with him. Needless to say, this doesn’t make for the most compelling drama and an early scene in which Eloise is nearly swept off her feet by another character only leads to a dead end.
Even more vague is the drama between Kudrow and Robinson, who own a diner in Ohio and are both apparently suffering through a loveless marriage. Revolori’s travails involving his failed attempts to attract women are meant to be funny, but are not particularly. And Squibb’s storyline involving two children who have forgotten that she was once their nanny feels too minor. In fact, it’s only Merchant’s plotline involving his taking up the tasks of the wedding’s waitstaff after donning a jacket that makes him appear to be a waiter that gets a few laughs.
The film’s final third aims to inject the various plot threads with more gravitas and emotion and, on occasion, it succeeds in doing so. But the problem is that these threads were neglected during the first two-thirds of the movie and, therefore, their impact is blunted. Table 19 is a brief (at 87 minutes) and occasionally amusing, but mostly forgettable, wedding dramedy that that never lives up to the potential of its setup.