THE WEDDING RINGER has great audio and video, but its dreadful nature still isn’t recommended.
As someone who who can quote him some raunchy comedy from BACHELOR PARTY and AIRPLANE, I love me a film that takes bold chances. That being said, the Josh Gad/Kevin Hart film THE WEDDING RINGER isn’t one of them, even though it checks off all the things needed for a perfect low-brow release. Simply put, it’s shallow, ugly, and surprisingly spiteful, and fails to improve as it arrives onto Blu-ray.
The friend-less loser Doug (Josh Gad) is soon to be married to the hottie Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), yet his lack of buddies is due entirely to a busy work life that has left him without any groomsmen. Every phone call to secure some have utterly failed, leaving him to a Hail Mary. Insert said last-minute shot at redemption, courtesy of rent-a-groom Jimmy (Hart), who will turn himself into the perfect Best Man. But Doug needs 7 groomsmen, forcing Jimmy to seek The Golden Tux; unfortunately with time ticking, he resorts to the strangest compliment of groomsmen ever assembled. As the magic day arrives, Doug learns of a deep betrayal and impending disaster that only his burgeoning friendship with Jimmy can solve.
THE WEDDING RINGER is like every disastrous wedding you’ve ever imagined, except little of it is genuinely funny. You find yourself at one point laughing at an inappropriate gags without really knowing why, until you realize that the comedy is actually shallow and mean-spirited. Add to that a list of the most unlikable characters whose wisecracking come at the expense of the story, and you have a movie that eventually becomes hard to get through. Considering the vast amount of outtakes in the supplements, it’s apparent that most of what we see throughout is ad-libbing gone horribly wrong. I had my theories about this when it arrived – and quickly disappeared – from theaters; listening to the commentary (which far exceeds anything in the film itself), it’s clear that our troupe had a hard time getting through scenes because they were laughing so much. Too bad Director/Writer Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavendar didn’t spend more time fleshing out the weak script. Their work makes it almost impossible to hear anything after each zinger, as we’re forced to extrapolate – or become good at reading lips – before we can begin to fathom any semblance of a story.
But once you’re able to make this leap, you’ll discover that everyone in the film is as pathetic and detestable as the other. One might say that TED suffers from the same problem: the difference here is intent. We know TED is a farce. RINGER is supposed to be more realistic. There’s never a connection made between Jimmy, Doug, or Gretchen, with Cuoco-Sweeting looking a bit out of place compared to Hart and Gad. She’s great in THE BIG BANG THEORY, but here she’s merely window dressing that’s quickly outgunned by short appearances by Whitney Cummings.
Hart is of course a comic master, rifling off slang and ad-libs like a modern-day Michelangelo. But Hart is also quickly beocming typecast suffering through weak scripts and actors who frankly can’t keep up with him (see Will Ferrell struggle in GET HARD). Gad, for all of his success with FROZEN, is likable but we constantly want to hug the lame out of him. He’s a goofball and funny in his own right, but without a stronger framework from Garelick and Lavender, what we get are characters with nothing more than angst, loser, jerk, and bitch in their blood. A football game that devolves into an elderly/youth brawl? Empty and meaningless. A bachelor party that finds one person with a dog’s teeth clamped on his privates? That smells like a Hangover reference. Garelick seems to think that the journey is more important than the destination, giving Cuoco-Sweeting nothing more than flimsy bitchiness that sees her character seriously degrade into a thoroughly unlikable person. There’s simply no need for twists like these, perhaps signalling why our creative team saw fit to throw it in.
RINGER’s heart is just ugly, failing to establish anything above its low-brow heartbeat. Add that twist which makes everyone (including the viewer) realize they’ve wasted their money on a wedding that should never have happened, and you realize just how terrible a decision that was to include it. In the real world, no one would have allowed such a reveal to undermine their wedding plans, perhaps leading one person to break it off as soon as they learned about it. Based on the commentary, it’s clear that Garelick and crew were given a very thin script and asked to ad-lib over many of the scenes. That makes for a nice set of outtakes, but not for a good film. RINGER is schlock and shock for the sake of it.
THE WEDDING RINGER arrives with a clean MPEG-4/AVC transfer that succeeds on almost every level. There’s hardly ever a time when the image isn’t balanced or sharp, making even the finest detail stand out. Color is accurate and saturated, especially in Bic’s den; that’s not a problem as the rich colors pervade throughout the film. Skintones never suffer, revealing both shades and detail on faces, individual strands of hair from Cuoco-Sweeting’s wedding hair, and Hart’s perfectly-coiffed hair. Props look authentic as do sets, giving the entire palette a cinematic quality. Shadows and black levels strike a perfect balance, the one blending agreeably into the other. Sony’s transfer also leaves out any banding, aliasing, or edge enhancement, earning near-top awards. It’s too bad the film itself doesn’t match up.
THE WEDDING RINGER is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that thumps its way throughout the various pop and classic 80’s soundtrack scores. Dialogue is strong in the center channel, never requiring you to play The Remote Game (raising the volume to hear dialogue then dialing it way back when the scene gets too loud). Left and right channels deliver a combination of music and sound effects, some of which show up in the surrounds. There, the speakers deliver a surprising amount of ambient sounds, from outdoor noise at the arcade to machinery in Jimmy’s Basement. Music also plays in the rears, but never at a level that overshadows the environmentals. There’s even selected moments when a car will pass from the forward speakers to the rears, essentially wrapping the viewer in sound. Another element that one wouldn’t expect to enjoy is the LFE, which thumps way too often for a run-of-the-mill comedy. We hear it every time the music plays, especially in what becomes the movie’s theme. It also appears during the infamous football scene, as Doug and his groomsmen get routinely thrown to the ground with a requisite thud. Glass crashes, fireworks explode, and faces get smacked with perfect clarity. In many ways, the audio field surpasses the film, reminding us that even comedies can get their own Golden Tux, provided the studio wishes it so. Well done, Sony.
- Selected Scenes Audio Commentary with Director Jeremy Garelick and Actor Josh Gad: For a commentary that mentions “select scenes” in its title, we’re actually treated to a ton of thoughts from the duo on a variety of subjects. We learn about everything from the physical comedy, the cast which Garelick assembled, as well as Kevin Hart’s conspicuous absence from the commentary. In many ways, it far exceeds the quality of the movie itself.
- Deleted Scenes: There’s not much here of value, save for a few scenes: the rest are throwaways. Scenes include Plant a Tree in Israel (0:32), Cavity Search — Alternate (0:32), Doris Calls for Endo (0:36), Invent Our Own Past (1:03), Bic’s Special Prayer (1:42), Courthouse (2:43), Bad Best Man — Extended (4:34), PJ the Waiter (0:51), Night Plumbers – Extended (1:57), Holly Munk (1:40), Dirty Gretchen (1:02), Football Whoo-Ha (0:50), Wedding Procession (1:43), Hal Lane Roast (2:03), and Impressive Groomsmen (0:44).
- Outtakes: Some outtakes are very strong including Jewish Funeral (1:22) and Yiddish (2:41), while others are merely lame or even copies of others, including Bic Bic Bic (5:44), Flashlights (1:02), and Outtakes Reel (3:38). Some of these are better than most scenes in the release.
- Line-O-Rama (14:19): These are…surprisingly…more more outtakes, with some of these genuinely funny.
- Going to the Chapel of Love (6:24): This EPX reel stars the cast and crew explaining their real-life wedding memories.
- Music Video (3:30): Aloe Blacc performs Can You Do This.
- Previews: THE INTERVIEW, CHAPPIE, PAUL BLART MALL COP II, and HOME SWEET HELL.
Our evaluation copy arrived as a Blu-ray/Digital HD Combo, with a card inside to redeem the Digital Copy. The debossed slipcase is colorful while the Eco-Amaray case doesn’t contain any interior artwork. As of this posting, we were not aware of any special editions.
THE WEDDING RINGER premiered on January 16, 2015 making the turnaround for this release just three months. That’s not a prize Sony should accept, but more a message about just how awful this one turned out. Given that short turnaround time, Sony excels with a very nice home release, featuring excellent audio and video, as well as good commentary track and acceptable extras. And while it has its moments, dig a little deeper into its spiteful nature and you might not laugh as heard as you originally wanted. Sony offers a great in-home experience, demonstrating a total commitment to titles even as small as this, but you might be better off renting it first before plopping down your hard-earned cash. Does the film check off the requisite boxes for raunchy comedy? Yes. Can recommend it for purchase? Not unless you’re a Kevin Hart completest or someone with extra cash to burn. If so, I could use a loan.
THE WEDDING RINGER is Rated R for crude and sexual content, language throughout, some drug use and brief graphic nudity and has a runtime of 101 minutes.