The Wedding Ringer features Doug Harris (Josh Gad), a friendless international lawyer who is about to get married. After his numerous attempts to find a best man for the wedding all fail, Doug turns to “Best Man Incorporated.” Doug manages to hire Joshua Callahan (Kevin Hart) to be his best man, and after some substantial groveling, convinces Josh to hire seven other men to be his groomsmen. Shenanigans ensue as Doug, Josh and the hired groomsmen try to convince Doug’s fiancée (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) that they are the real deal. Despite Josh’s insistence that his relationship with Doug is purely professional, the two men quickly become best friends.
The acting in this movie was mixed. Josh Gad does a mediocre job playing a fat schmuck. Doug is the stereotypical, naïve friendless loser who just feels lucky that he found a girl willing to marry him. Most of Doug’s comedic scenes involve him tripping over objects or numerous fat jokes. Doug’s lack of humor and personality is particularly evident when compared to Kevin Hart’s character. Hart nails the role of a professional best man for hire with his trademark sass and motor mouth. Gad and Hart have occasional moments of onscreen chemistry, evidenced by their hilarious dance routine during a rehearsal wedding. The main issue is that Hart gets to deliver almost all the funny lines, while Gad is mostly forced to perform physical comedy. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting does an acceptable job playing the ditsy Gretchen, but playing a dimwitted blonde is hardly breaking new ground for her, thanks to her regular role as Penny in The Big Bang Theory.
One aspect of the movie that I unexpectedly enjoyed was the metahumor. The Wedding Ringer slyly references other famous movies as Doug and his hired gang try to pull off the wedding. The flag football game, played on a muddy field, is an homage to Remember the Titans and the background music is “You’re the Best Around” from The Karate Kid. My favorite scene was the revelation scene, where Gretchen begins suspect that there is something suspicious about Josh. This scene is a shot for shot recreation of the climactic scene from The Usual Suspects, which is one of my favorite thrillers. Even Jorge Garcia, best known for playing Hurley on Lost, gets a funny quip before getting on a flight to Tahiti. These understated references to other movies and television shows made me sit up and pay attention in the theater.
I really have conflicted feelings for the movie. On one hand, I felt that the characters were a bit one-dimensional and the numerous fat and gay jokes made the humor a little lowbrow. On the other hand, Kevin Hart’s sarcasm and slick dialogue delivery kept me laughing, and the metahumor only made the movie more entertaining. At the end of the day, this movie is great to watch with some friends, or a date, but probably not worth watching more than once.