Many of us are familiar with the idea that preparing for a wedding is a particularly trying time for a bride-to-be. However, as “The Wedding Ringer” demonstrates, it can also make the groom go nuts. Josh Gad stars as the successful but socially awkward and friendless Doug Harris, who is less than two weeks away from marrying Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting of “The Big Bang Theory”). Unfortunately, he can’t find a best man, let alone seven groomsmen for the big day! It doesn’t seem like he had to worry about a horse drawn carriage.
Enter famed “Wedding Ringer” Jimmy Callahan (comedian Kevin Hart) who operates The Best Man, Inc. out of an office below a small fun park in the city. His typical services include being a best man and perhaps bringing a couple of groomsmen, but the amazing “Golden Tux” has never been executed before. Also stipulated in these deals is the emphasis that the arrangements are purely business and a real friendship must be avoided. Without a doubt, Jimmy is very good at his job and he can deliver a best man that will make the bride tear up and the father-in-law nod with pride. With an additional fee, he’ll also provide a eulogy at your funeral.
Doug’s listed best man is the imaginary Bic Mitchum, a name hastily created when he saw Bic razors and Mitchum deodorant in his medicine cabinet. Jimmy is dismayed that Bic must also be a military chaplain, but he rises to the challenge, putting himself and Doug through some hilarious situations. Like any epic quest (think of the Golden Fleece), our mismatched heroes have a few outrageous obstacles to contend with: auditioning groomsmen, surviving a lunch to pick food, a “friendly” football match with the old team of the future father-in-law, and a raucous bachelor party. All of these events are in addition to Bridezilla Gretchen and Doug’s misgivings about keeping up a lie.
There’s a lot to enjoy in the film. The Titanic reenactment by Jorge Garcia’s Lurch and Aaron Takahashi’s Endo is hilarious, as is Jimmy and Doug’s unexpected dance montage. (With respect to the ending credits, there was a missed opportunity to recreate these moments in Tahiti.) The progression to the end is rather predictable in some ways, but surprisingly the film carries depth in its questions about weddings: What was the moment you knew she was the one? How do men and women view weddings?
Overall, “The Wedding Ringer” is a fun film that one can’t mistake for a romantic comedy. Admittedly, that means that Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting doesn’t get as much screen time as “Big Bang Theory” fans might like. Yes, it can’t help but dive into some of the stereotypical aspects of weddings, but it finds ways to let hilarity ensue. Underlying this thread, Doug’s journey is really about breaking out of his awkward shell and finding friendships in places where he least expected. It’s an equally enlightening time for Jimmy Callahan, giving both Josh Gad and Kevin Hart the opportunity to shine that sends you out of the theater with a smile on your face.