The Wedding Ringer

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This is a January comedy starring the hilarious Kevin Hart and Josh Gad – the two actors have a nice chemistry with each other which helps enliven the film’s formula: a familiar mix of bromance and raunch. I went with a friend and even though there were several aspects in the movie that were typical, we had good laughs – just like everyone in Filmhouse Cinema Samonda did that day.

In the movie, director Jeremy Garelick and his co-writer, Jay Lavender, introduced some rather new twists while also keeping some familiar ones.

Gad stars as Doug Harris, a successful Los Angeles tax attorney who’s about to marry a woman he thinks is completely out of his league: the pretty, blonde Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). While Gretchen is obsessing over salad dressing flavors (and is generally depicted in stereotypically controlling, materialistic fashion), Doug is trying to hide from her and their flamboyant wedding planner, Edmundo (Ignacio Serricchio), that he doesn’t have any groomsmen to go along with her seven bridesmaids. He doesn’t even have a best man. Because he has no real friends.

It’s not that Doug is a bad guy. Quite the contrary – he’s obviously kindhearted, caring and decent to the core. But he’s also a little awkward when it comes to making pals. So on a tip from Edmundo, he pays a visit Hart’s Jimmy Callahan, a best man for hire. Jimmy can plan your bachelor party and deliver a killer toast. He can round up as many groomsmen as you need. He can do every type of ceremony imaginable. But he’s quite clear about the fact that he’ll be out the door once the cake is cut because he’s not your real friend.

Jimmy gathers a motley collection of freaks and misfits to serve as the longtime friends on Doug’s side of the wedding party. (Gretchen never notices that the placeholder names he gives her include Drysdale, Carew, Rambis, Plunkett and Dickerson. Because women don’t like sports, silly!) These characters are actually fleshed out more than you’d expect and the back stories they receive as they pretend to be Doug’s buddies are crammed with amusingly bizarre details. And their commitment to the ruse, in the name of this stranger’s happiness, is oddly sweet.

Gad, the Tony-nominated star of “The Book of Mormon” who’s probably best known as the voice of Olaf in “Frozen,” gets to put his showmanship on display in a truly inspired dance sequence with Hart. It’s the highlight of the entire movie.

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