by Samantha Ho
Rated MA15+. Starring Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting. Directed by Jeremy Garelick.
Fellas, if you were to get married in less than a month, who would you choose as your groomsmen?
For some, including Doug Harris in The Wedding Ringer, the decision might not be that easy. Doug (Gad, who is incidentally the voice actor for Olaf in Frozen) works as a tax attorney, eagerly waiting to marry his too-good-to-be-true fiancé, Gretchen Palmer (Cuoco-Sweeting). Doug, whilst disorganised and often disinterested in the wedding process compared to his fiancee, is desperate to make her dream wedding come true.
Doug’s wedding planner, Edmundo (Ignacio Serricchio), suggests a radical possibility, to approach Jimmy Callahan (Hart) for help. Jimmy provides a service for men called The Best Man Inc., for grooms who need a best man at their wedding. He becomes their hopes of a best man, by investigating all there is to know about the groom’s life. Whilst his business seems to be a big success, Jimmy’s service is strictly business – employing a “no contact after payment” policy. And so, the burning question for the viewer throughout the movie is, “Will Doug’s wedding turn out alright?”
Whilst the slapstick humor and crude language may draw out some laughs from viewers (not really for me), there is an underlying sadness to the film. Doug’s search for a best man makes him realise that he actually needs a best friend. His fiancé makes the decisions as though the wedding is only about herself. As the day of the wedding draws near, relationships turn ugly.
I didn’t appreciate the repeated immature acts of the group, which often became distasteful. Whilst the friendship between Doug and Jimmy blossoms, it can’t really be said of the other groomsmen. They are, after all, just an accessory to Doug’s experiment with living on the wild side.
The day draws near, and Doug finds himself getting along with Jimmy, who also becomes saddened at the thought of disconnecting after the wedding day. This is when Harris says sadly, “Anyone can be a best friend for a price, but nobody’s when it counts.”
Relationships are meant to be great. From a gospel perspective, relationships both reflect the love that God has, and are mended by the love that he has. In the person and work of Jesus on the cross, God befriends us and changes our hearts to love Him and one another. What Doug, Jimmy and the rest of the bridal party are searching for is not necessarily the party lifestyle, but to find true happiness and love. This can only be found in God. 1 John 3:1 says:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
Please be warned that this film contains strong explicit language and sexual references. The Wedding Ringer conjures up some helpful thoughts about what real friendship should be like, but largely due to the crude nature of how the message is presented, I’m giving it one-and-a-half stars out of five.
The Wedding Ringer is screening now in US cinemas; and will be released in the UK on January 20th, and Australia on January 22nd.