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The Wedding Ringer is a matter of Hart

by Mark Burger

In the standard-issue comedy The Wedding Ringer, Kevin Hart plays a best-man-for-hire. If you’re getting married and don’t have a friend, he’ll take the job “” for a price.

It’s the sort of fast-talking, quick-on-his-feet role that actor/comedian specializes in, and even in such forgettable circumstances, he brings an energy and a presence that elevate the proceedings, if only so much.

As entrepreneur Jimmy Callahan, he’s got his hands full with his latest client, Doug Harris (Josh Gad), an obsessive workaholic worried about his impending nuptials to dream girl Gretchen (“The Big Bang Theory” dream girl Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) because he has no family and no friends.

Jimmy, it would seem, is Doug’s last hope, and the assignment is nicknamed “a Golden Tuxedo” because he has to play the best man, round up groomsmen and ushers, school them in Doug’s history, and basically create Doug’s entire background out of thin air.

Needless to say, this ruse will eventually come to light, and inevitably it will occur during the wedding reception. The Wedding Ringer is nothing if not married, no pun intended, to comedic convention.

There are some amusing barbs and inspired gags toward the pomp and circumstance of weddings, but too often the film falls back on raunchy slapstick, some of it is jarring. When Cuoco-Sweeting or Ken Howard (playing her typically pompous father) suddenly begins spouting expletives, it might have some shock value, but it’s not very funny. Rather typical, actually.

Still, The Wedding Ringer moves along reasonably well and fairly painlessly. There are some nice folks on hand “” Mimi Rogers, Cloris Leachman, Affion Crockett and even Joe Namath. Olivia Thirlby, as the bride’s canny little sister, does good things with her small role.

Hart cruises through the proceedings with relaxed assurance, and his wedding dance with Gad at a different ceremony is a little comic gem. He also earns laughs with lines that seem improvised and off-the-cuff. Given Jay Lavender and director Jeremy Garelick’s screenplay, it would hardly be surprising.

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