'The Wedding Ringer': Critics say 'I don't' to Kevin Hart comedy

Critics say 'The Wedding Ringer' is a been-there, done-that bromantic comedy

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to discuss "The Wedding Ringer." If there are any film critics present who object to the bromantic comedy starring Kevin Hart as a best man for hire and Josh Gad as his nerdy new client, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.

Oh, looks like there are quite a few.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey says, "there is considerable comic chemistry between the high-octane Kevin Hart and the energy-conserving Josh Gad," which is fortunate because the rest of the film is pretty ho-hum.

It's based on "a crazy conceit, and Hart tackles it with his signature style, a kind of comic scatting delivered at lightning speed," Sharkey says. "Watching him sweet-talk his way out of one dilemma after another offers a little redemption. But too often 'The Wedding Ringer' looks like a hodgepodge of 'Hitch,' 'Wedding Crashers' and 'Bridesmaids' — something borrowed, something blue and all of it half-baked."

The Hollywood Reporter's Jon Frosch agrees that there's a "whiff of stale leftovers that hangs over the movie from start to finish." He continues, "a certain derivative, deja-vu quality isn't the only sin this lazy, numbingly routine, very occasionally amusing comedy commits. An odd-couple bromance spiked with gross-out humor of a mostly unimaginative sort, [the film] largely fails to accomplish its most basic mission: making us laugh."

The "rather obvious lesson," Frosch says, "is that in the age of Judd Apatow and smarter raunch, it takes more than fat dudes, penis jokes and dogs with wandering tongues to make us guffaw in spite of ourselves. Frankly, we've seen it all before."

The New York Times' Nicolas Rapold pointedly classifies "Ringer" as "technically a comedy, with all the pointlessly foul language, racial and gender stereotypes, stammering, and canine penis-biting that apparently we're supposed to want to see in raunchy movies about pathetic grooms." Not helping matters is that director Jeremy Garelick "takes the shortest route whenever possible, which usually means a gratuitous insult."

Entertainment Weekly's Jason Clark gives the film a D grade and writes, "'The Wedding Ringer' is such a crudely edited, slapdash affair it often forgets about the characters it has introduced — especially the women. Chauvinism drips from this film more profusely than sweat from Hart and Gad as they try to force its tired material to work. Unless your idea of the ultimate screen comedy is to witness how many different ways a fat guy can fall down in one film, you're probably better off breaking off this engagement."

Any takers out there? A few, including the San Francisco Chronicle's Michael Ordona, who says, "The film is so wildly un-PC, it's sure to annoy many, some with reasonable arguments. But whether gleefully treading where fools rush in or subjecting characters to surprising harm for laughs, the thing is funny, at times very funny."

He adds, "Respect is not something viewers will find much of in 'The Wedding Ringer,' nor propriety, nor any of those things that make for respectable family viewing. It's just a funny, impolite, very not-for-kids romp that goes there."

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