Table 19

The appendix footnote is now a feature length film!

I had no idea there was such a hierarchy to wedding table assignment. Oh, sure, you got your dais, and seats nearby reserved for wedding participants … then a close table for immediate family members … and, sure, there are people you don’t wish to sit together; I imagine it will be more and more common at future weddings to separate blue people and red people. But planned from middle on down? “Business associates”, “Eligible singles”, “Not-so-eligible singles?” Gee, plan enough tables and you can compartmentalize and rank everybody … table 76 is “people who are pissed there’s no live band,” table 77 is “wedding crashers,” table 78 is “inappropriate toasters.” Finally, one can round out any enormous wedding with table 198 “orcs,” table 199 “Slytherin” and table 200 “members of the Trump cabinet.”

Personally, I love weddings. Music, dancing, joy, potentially the best meal you’ll eat all year, people you know looking as good as they can look; no wedding is perfect, of course, which, for me, makes it all the better. I’m as introverted as they come, yet I’d sooner go a month without movies than turn down a wedding invite – which should be saying something. And I was at a wedding recently. In retrospect, now I’m wondering about how I ranked.  Luckily I wasn’t pushed quite as far from the dance floor as was humanly possible, and yet, I’d guess our table was a collection of, “hey, you. Yeah. There you are. Thanks for coming, I think.” I’m not saying this was necessarily the case in the last wedding I attended, but if you’ve ever felt like a pariah at a fancy event, it is easy to relate to Table 19.

Table 19 is the table for people who should have known not to accept the wedding invitation. This is a casting coup film – see, anybody can be invited to a wedding, and even pretty people can be outcastes at the wrong event. Hence, the awkward arrangement of otherwise disparate types feels more organic here than in other “mixed donut” collections. Shoved off to the periphery as if invited to a different event are bickering couple Jerry and Bina (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow), forgotten nanny Jo (June Squibb), disturbingly awkward teen Rezno (Tony Revolori), felonious uncle-of-the-bride Walter (Stephen Merchant), and the alternate universe maid-of-honor Eloise (Anna Kendrick).

Eloise surveyed the invitation itself with tears, answered “yes,” answered “no,” set fire to it, then put out the fire and mailed the scorched remains. At $200 a plate, you can’t not respond, y’know? Two months earlier, she was very serious with best man/brother-of-bride, Teddy (Wyatt Russell). Nobody is convinced of her angry “I’m over him” stance, undermined by the constant stares in Wyatt’s direction … but being a jerk at somebody’s wedding, especially somebody you like, is on the giant list of things one should never do, even if one is a Kardashian. So Eloise resigns herself to the metaphorical kids’ table.

The great part about knowing you’re expendable at a big event is that many rules no longer apply to you. No, you still can’t mount the dance floor before the bride and groom, but you also don’t have to pay attention to ill-prepared toasts and quasi-sincere pronouncements. Go ahead and play “Candy Crush” while the bride’s father speaks.  It is eerie how unnecessary this sextet is to the event …and how quickly they realize it when a frustrated Eloise dresses the group down as her rite-of-passage entry to the bottom caste. See, she knows everybody because she helped plan the thing before her banishment.

I realize this film is a great big guilty pleasure. Table 19 has plenty of flaws, not the least of which being the overall plot. The question here is, “do we want the film to go in the direction we know it will?” I have a soft spot for solidarity among misfits. What’s #1 this week? Logan? Get Out? Both good-to-excellent films … and yet I say without blinking I cared more about the secondary cast in this film than in either of those. I loved how this group never felt like it was part of the reception, Sometimes big events can feel exactly like that – you were there, you joined in, you stood up, you sat down, you clapped, you cried, you ate, you drank, you danced, you toasted, and yet, if nobody called your name, somehow you just weren’t there. Grab the event photographer early on – dude, prove I was here.

So this one is for the ignored and the rest of you can bypass Table 19 and see the four-star wedding next door; maybe King Kong can make it work … just this once.

♪Don’t go tradin’
To try and see me
I know your table’s way out there
And don’t imagine
We really need you
You here because mom
Said, “It’s fair.”

We shouldn’t need you
In times of trouble
Make sure to sign the registrar
You got the invite
That should suffice, right?
I love you seated by the car♫

Rated PG-13, 87 Minutes
D: Jeffrey Blitz
W: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Genre: Mixed donuts with rented icing
Type of person most likely to enjoy this film: The overlooked
Type of person least likely to enjoy this film: Bridezillas

♪ Parody inspired by “Just the Way You Are”

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