Film Review: “Table 19” – Great Actors, Not-So-Great Movie

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Cast of Table 19 pose for movie poster
Image from Fox Searchlight

Table 19 is filled with great actors, but it is not great. Writer/director Jeffrey Blitz (The Office, Rocket Science) has admirably high aims, setting the rom-com in a single location, and trying to cover a wide range of different character’s unique life crises, but the movie itself is unfortunately not up to the challenge of doing real emotional or comedic justice.

Cast of Table 19 pose for movie poster
Image from Fox Searchlight

The pieces are there, at least. Eloise (Anna Kendrick) attends the wedding of her recently estranged best friend, because she broke up with said bride’s brother Teddy (literal Kurt Russell-Goldie Hawn hybrid Wyatt Russell) two months earlier. At the reception, she’s placed at Table 19, the table for guests who the couple was hoping wouldn’t attend, alongside a crew of misfits: snarky diner-owning couple Jerry and Bina (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow), the bride’s elderly first nanny Jo (June Squibb), soft-spoken white collar criminal Walter (Stephen Merchant), and awkward teen Renzo (Tony Revolori).

They all have issues, which come out over the course of the day, and in a few scenes have bonded together in hopes of solving them. But the whole thing feels unearned, and, for a movie with this much Craig Robinson, Stephen Merchant, and Lisa Kudrow in it, there should be more than three jokes that elicited a laugh from the theater (note: I was the only one in the theater). Worse is the dramatic stuff though. While Kendrick and Russell surprisingly pull off most of what the movie needs them to do, the story gives them way more to work with than anyone else. Like (SPOILER) the revelation that Bina is so unhappy with her marriage that she intended to have an affair is completely solved by Jerry walking into the shower and having sex with her as treacly music plays.

That’s sort of the deal with Table 19, which relies on string-pulling music to try mask how unearned most of its emotional beats are. The adventures they go through are so incredibly minor that it’s hard to buy their transformation into a makeshift family, let alone how quick it is. The filmmaking, too, doesn’t have the energy the performers deserve. There’s a bit where the table-dwellers take a walk outside the hotel, and the movie’s music treats it as a big emotional moment, but because its just a bland, static wide shot, the small moment falls flat. Which is too bad, as, despite everyone’s efforts, so does most of this one.

Film Review by Charlie Heller, exclusive to LAWestMedia.com