Midway through “Table 19,” wedding guest Jerry Kepp (Craig Robinson, “Morris from America”) asks his wife, “What are we doing here?” With a nonexistent plot, poor character development, and painfully unfunny jokes, viewers of “Table 19” will ask themselves the same question.
Billing big names like Anna Kendrick (“The Accountant”) and Lisa Kudrow (“The Girl on the Train”), “Table 19” cobbles together a ragtag bunch of eccentrics at a wedding’s most irrelevant table, populated by the “randoms” who “should have had the decency to RSVP no.” Anna Kendrick plays Eloise, the former maid of honor turned maid of dishonor once excommunicated by the bride’s brother and relocated to table 19. She is joined by a forgotten nanny (June Squibb, “Nebraska”), a bumbling preteen who unsuccessfully tries to get laid (Tony Revolori, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”), a black sheep relative who was granted leave from prison specifically to attend the event (Stephen Merchant, “Logan”), and a husband and wife past the peak of their marriage (Kudrow and Robinson)
The intent is to create a sort of “Breakfast Club for adults,” introducing strangers who have nothing in common, injecting humor, and coming out with a tangible emotional bond. But the characters, each defined by a single stale gag, are so one-dimensional that their lines can be delivered awkwardly at best. They are neither endearing enough for their discomfort to be charming, nor creative enough to be funny. No level of acting talent can resurrect a script this poorly written.
“Table 19” feels reminiscent of freshman orientation groups just starting college, a too-large crew of characters spending more time together than their lack of mutual interests dictate. Eloise tends to command screen time, while the other characters exist unnecessarily in the background, occasionally interrupting with an unfunny and irrelevant side comment. They wander the hotel grounds as an incohesive pack, unsuccessfully trying to insert themselves into each others’ lives.
The latter half of the movie introduces serious themes of marriage and family, questioning what it means to maintain relationships with people you love. But the emotional arcs of the characters had such flimsy foundations that sentimentality feels outlandish. Only Kudrow’s and Robinson’s characters relationship showed any glimmer of promise. For the most part, proclamations of love, eager smiles, and stirring music give off the indication that “Important Emotional Connections” are being made. In reality, there’s nothing there. It almost seems like just another joke, until you realize it wasn’t meant to be.
It’s the secondhand embarrassment that arises from this knowledge — that the characters know they are irrelevant and still try to joke about it, that the movie is so painfully lackluster and still tries to pretend it’s not — that makes the whole experience so uncomfortable to watch. You’d be better off RSVPing no.