Table 19 presents an interesting dichotomy for movie-goers, particularly those whose enjoyment of films is linked most powerfully to their ability to root for the individual characters.
Over the first half of Table 19, you will be hard-pressed to find a single character that you genuinely like. Virtually everyone in the movie takes turns trading obnoxious barbs and blatant (and mostly unfunny) insults, which is particularly strange because essentially all of the characters just met each other that afternoon.
The second half of the movie, on the other hand, provides a complete 180. You start to root for the characters, as is the case in many raunchy-turned-sappy comedies. But you actually start to feel for the characters too. At times it’s hard to imagine that you’re watching the same movie that you were watching an hour ago.
The movie focuses on Eloise (Anna Kendrick), the ex-maid of honor who attends the wedding of her oldest friend even though she was recently dumped by the best man. Eloise ends up not at the friends table but at the “random” table. There, at Table 19, she finds a collection of weirdos and misfits that includes unhappy couple Bina and Jerry Kepp (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson) and the bride’s childhood nanny, Jo (June Squibb), all of whom deliver strong performances in a supporting role. Kendrick, for her part, is great as the film’s self-deprecating, snarky, lovable loser.
Essentially the entire movie takes place at the wedding, where each of the Table 19 guests reveals their individual backstories and, ultimately, the reasons why you should invest yourself in rooting for them. Not everyone will get hooked on these characters, of course, but if you allow yourself to buy in, the rewards aren’t too bad.
Ultimately, Table 19 is a disappointment as a comedy but a pleasant surprise as a feel-good movie. If you go into the theater with high expectations, hoping to fall out of your chair, you’ll likely be disappointed. But if you take a “Let’s see what this film has to offer” kind of attitude, Table 19 might make you smile, laugh and maybe – maybe – even cry.