Rated R for crude humor, pervasive profanity, coarse sexuality and brief graphic nudity
Kevin Hart And Josh Gad Co-Star In Unlikely-Buddies Comedy
Doug Harris (Josh Gad) and Gretchen Palmer (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) are putting the finishing touches on their impending wedding. Trouble is the socially-challenged groom has yet to find a best man and they’re set to exchange vows in just 10 days.
He’s been rejected by every acquaintance he’s approached, receiving rude responses ranging from “I thought you died” to “I didn’t even invite you to my wedding.” So, Doug decides to hide his awkward predicament from his fiancée, since he’s too embarrassed to admit that he doesn’t have any friends.
Instead, he hires a professional best man, Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), along with seven strangers to serve as his groomsmen. Can these guys get to know Doug well enough in a week to convince Gretchen and members of the wedding party that they’re long-lost friends?
That is the preposterous point of departure of The Wedding Ringer, an unlikely-buddies comedy marking the directorial debut of Yale University graduate Jeremy Garelick. Provided you are not offended by and are willing to suspend disbelief about the farfetched setup, you’ll actually be richly rewarded by the hilarious, bad boy hijinks about to ensue.
Most of the laughs emanate from the attempt by that motley assortment of unsavory characters to impersonate refined, white-collar types ranging from a podiatrist, to a principal, to a lawyer, to a professor. The sham of a best man adopts the alias “Bic Mitchum” and passes himself off as a priest.
And although he proves convincing at faking bromance, he warns Doug not to develop feelings because, “You’re not buying a new friend. You’re hiring a best man.” But despite this strictly business understanding, coldhearted Jimmy gradually warms to the goofy groom and the two somehow bond anyway.
That unexpected development is what ultimately redeems The Wedding Ringer’s otherwise pretty repugnant premise. After all, how much hope could there really be for a marriage, if a groom would opt to stage such an elaborate scheme rather than simply explain the situation to his bride-to-be?
Check your brain at the box office, and motor-mouthed Kevin Hart, surrounded by a talented cast of seasoned comedians, will keep you in stitches for the duration of a decidedly-lowbrow, politically-incorrect misadventure.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 101 minutes
Son Follows In Outlaw Mom’s Footsteps In Neo Noir Reminiscent Of Red Rock West
Martha Barlow (Nadia Litz) is a femme fatale with a checkered past and plenty of skeletons in her closet. Consequently, she’s done her best to keep off the grid, raising her son, Andy (Justin Kelly), in relative seclusion in ruralSaskatchewan.
Seems like everybody around their tiny prairie town is the sort of unsavory character you cross the street to avoid, including Martha’s boyfriend/partner in crime, Tommy (Rossif Sutherland). The couple’s favorite haunt is the local racetrack which is where they concoct cockamamie con games, like robbing a bar patron who has propositioned a prostitute by waiting to pounce until the john is in a compromising position. The pair’s felonious antics don’t sit well with teenaged Andy, who hangs out at the track because the girl (Holly Deveaux) he has a crush on works there.
The plot thickens during an attempted shakedown gone wrong, after Tommy shoots the horse of an owner who refuses to be intimidated. The situation further degenerates when the tables are turned and Tommy takes a bullet from the barrel of the victim’s gun.
Seeing his mother’s life threatened, Andy reluctantly gets involved, and the next thing you know mother and son are on the run. As fugitives from justice, Martha and Andy seek refuge at the home of her estranged father (Stephen McHattie), a geezer disinclined to offer them a port in the storm, especially since he’s never even met his grandson before. Another fly in the ointment is the fact that Andy’s father (David La Haye) has escaped from prison and is intent on tracking down Martha.
Thus unfolds Big Muddy, an intriguing neo noir marking the impressive directorial debut of Jefferson Moneo. Atmospheric and absorbing, this well-crafted whodunit is rather reminiscent of Red Rock West (1999), for folks familiar with that cult classic co-starring Nicolas Cage and Dennis Hopper.
A deliberately-paced, multi-layered mystery, tailor-made for nostalgic, pulp fiction fans.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 104 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening January 23, 2015
The Boy Next Door (R for profanity, sexuality, nudity and violence) Psychological thriller about a young man (Ryan Guzman) who becomes obsessed with his recently-divorced neighbor (Jennifer Lopez) after they share a one-night stand. Cast includes John Corbett, Kristen Chenoweth, Hill Harper and Ian Nelson.
Mortdecai (R for profanity and sexuality) Screen adaptation of the Kyril Bonfiglioli best-seller of the same name about a globetrotting art dealer’s (Johnny Depp) search for a stolen painting containing clues leading to a missing Nazi gold fortune. With Olivia Munn, Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany and Jeff Goldblum.
Strange Magic (PG for action and scary images) Animated musical, inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, revolving around a battle among elves, goblins, fairies and imps over a powerful potion. Voice cast includes Meredith Anne Bull, Kristen Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Alfred Molina and Maya Rudolph.
Against The Sun (PG for mature themes and mild epithets) World War II survival saga recounting a trio of airmen’s (Tom Felton, Jake Abel and Garret Dillahunt) real-life ordeal in a lifeboat after ditching their plane over the Pacific Ocean. Featuring Nadia Parra.
Black Sea (R for violence, graphic images and pervasive profanity) Buried treasure adventure starring Jude Law as a submarine captain who goes rogue to search for a sunken ship supposedly loaded with gold. With Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn and Jodie Whittaker.
Cake (R for profanity, substance abuse and brief sexuality) Poignant character portrait starring Jennifer Aniston as a woman who befriends the just-widowed husband (Sam Worthington) of a suicidal member of her chronic pain support group (Anna Kendrick). Ensemble cast includes Adriana Barrazza, William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman, Lucy Punch, Mamie Gummer and Chris Messina. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)
The Humbling (R for profanity, sexuality and brief violence) Oscar winner Barry Levinson (for Rain Man) directed this adaptation of the Philip Roth best-seller of the same name about an aging actor (Al Pacino) whose life is turned upside down when he embarks on an ill-advised affair with a considerably-younger lesbian (Greta Gerwig). Support cast includes Dianne Wiest, Charles Grodin, Mandy Patinkin and Kyra Sedgwick.
Manny (PG-13 for violence and bloody images) Pugilism biopic, narrated by Liam Neeson, about Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao. Featuring commentary by Mark Wahlberg, Jeremy Piven and Jimmy Kimmel.
Mommy (R for violence, sexual references and pervasive profanity) ADHD drama chronicling a grieving widow’s (Anne Dorval) frustrations while raising her violent, teenage son (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) alone. With Suzanne Clement, Patrick Huard and Alexandre Goyette. (In French and English with subtitles)
Red Army (PG for mild epithets and mature themes) Cold War documentary highlighting the exploits of the Soviet Army’s hockey team, the most successful sports dynasty in history. (In English and Russian with subtitles)
Salvation Army (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama, set in Casablanca, about a gay teen’s (Said Mrini) search for identity in a society in denial about the existence of homosexuality. With Amine Ennaji, Karim Ait M’Hand and Frederic Landenberg. (In French and Arabic with subtitles)
Son Of A Gun (Unrated) Cat-and-mouse crime caper, set in Perth, about a 19-year-old petty thief (Brenton Thwaites) who, against his better judgment, becomes the protégé of Australia’s Public Enemy #1 (Ewan McGregor) after the two stage a daring jailbreak. With Alicia Vikander, Matt Nable, Tammie West and Jacek Koman.
Song One (PG-13 for sexuality and brief profanity) Romance drama about a woman (Anne Hathaway) who falls in love with a local musician (Johnny Flynn) after returning to Brooklyn to care for her comatose brother (Ben Rosenfield). With Mary Steenburgen, Li Jun Li and Gideon Glick.
We’ll Never Have Paris (R for sexuality and profanity) Romantic comedy revolving around a contrite guy (Simon Helberg) who ventures fromNew York toParis to propose to his ex-girlfriend (Melanie Lynskey) after sabotaging their relationship. Cast includes Maggie Grace, Alfred Molina, Zachary Quinto, Jason Ritter and Judith Light.