It’s abundantly clear that 2014 was the year of Kevin Hart in mainstream cinema. Between four big budget Hollywood movies, a faux-reality show, an ad campaign with Vitamin Water, and advertising films for $2 million a tweet, Hart was undeniably a powerhouse last year, and why not? He’s got a likable larger-than-life personality, especially considering dude’s short build, and a genuine gift for riffing that’s sure to get a chuckle out of even the most stone-hearted viewer.
His first big movie of 2015, The Wedding Ringer, is a testament to that fact, surprisingly enough. In it, Hart plays Jimmy Callahan, a man who offers his services as a professional best man at weddings to the highest bidder.
His skills at public people polishing are put to the test when Doug Harris, played by Josh Gad (the voice of Olaf from Frozen), approaches him with the task of not only being his best man, but helping him find seven additional groomsman and fabricating an extensive friendship with them, a service Callahan refers to as the “Golden Tux.”
On the surface, this is a really interesting setup for a comedy, just like it was back in 2009 when I Love You, Man first came out, but Ringer takes the concept in some pretty interesting directions, exploring the depths and reaches of Callahan’s “organization” that leads to some pretty funny payoffs.
The rest of the comedy rises and falls on Hart and Gadd’s comedic and dramatic chemistry, and I don’t want to oversell it, but they make a very good double act. Hart and Gad, for whom this is his first live-action starring role, really hold this comedy down, especially when the humor careens into tasteless territory that’s straight out of 2005, but the duo’s ability to wring pathos out of their respective characters is admirable; I won’t tell you how or why (It’s a comedy, can’t spoil that), but it’s kind of refreshing, even if its bromantic roots make it less than progressive. If you’re a fan of either Hart or Gad, there’s something for you in this one.
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