The Wedding Ringer
Doug Harris is about to get married. And he's marrying a girl who … well, let's just say she's so far out of his league he can't even see the ballpark from where he sits.
You see, Doug isn't exactly the handsome, funny, outgoing type. He's a nice guy, very bright and a hard worker. But he's not the sort women are drawn to. Or even talk to. Or even notice that he's in the room. But somehow he met and hit it off with his very pretty fiancée Gretchen. And he feels incredibly lucky.
Which is all the more reason he's in such misery right now. Because as the wedding fast approaches, Doug has been lying about something important: his best man. Not only doesn't he have a best man, he really doesn't even have a single friend close enough to tag for the job. No relatives, either. Of course he's already handed their wedding planner a whole list of names for his side of the wedding party … but he doesn't know a single one of those fabricated dudes.
So there's only one thing to do.
What? No, he's not going to admit his fib! He's going to hire a best man. Enter Jimmy Callahan and Best Man, Inc. Jimmy's been doing this sort of thing for years. And it's a pretty lucrative business. You'd be surprised, he says, how many guys just don't have friends nowadays.
Doug being a particularly friendless and hapless case, Jimmy figures he'll need the "Golden Tux" package to pull it all off. For a mere $50,000, Jimmy will round up a gaggle of groomsmen stand-ins to step in as Doug's bestest of buds, each one prepped and ready to act out the crazy roles Doug has dreamt up and lied about.
Then it'll be end zone dance time when they've completely convinced Gretchen and her whole family that Doug's outrageous and expansive lies are actually all as real as rain.
More like a fumble on fourth and long.
Although this whole film is, at its core, about a soon-to-be married couple lying to each other (and themselves), there are those onscreen who dare to make the statement that telling the truth is always the best policy. And eventually the wisdom of that sinks in for Doug, and he finally fesses up.
Doug also comes to understand that there's much more to marriage than simply finding a pretty person to play house with. He states his desire to marry and start a family but recognizes that finding the "right one" to love and start that family with must come first.
Devoted as he is to his "business only—no friends allowed" approach to life, Jimmy still comes to realize the value of true friendship and how much he's missed it.
It's the salty-tongued Jimmy who takes on the role of Bic Mitchum, Doug's curiously concocted … man of the cloth. He fakes being a priest in several scenes, tossing out jokey statements about God as he goes. For instance, when he finds out about Doug's fast-approaching marital deadline, Jimmy quips, "God created the world in seven days, and I've got to do a whole lot more in less." And he tells a tall tale about leading a life of heavy drug use and prostitution before "finding Jesus." Then, at a funeral, Jimmy plays a Jewish man who spits out stories of being harassed as a young Ethiopian Jew.
During Doug's bachelor party, the camera spots a topless woman, and a number of other "strippers" dance around in skimpy bikini's. One of them snuggles up to Doug, kisses him and moves to give him oral sex. (He stops her.) Later, with Doug tied up and blindfolded, that same girl smears peanut butter on his face and genitals. A dog is then coaxed to lick Doug's exposed private parts. The camera dives in for furtive glimpses as the dog chomps down on the fleshy area and proceeds to pull. A comic romp ensues as the beast is shot, its jaws lock up, and a hectic high-speed road trip to the hospital is undertaken.
The Palmer family's wedding planner, Edmundo, is a flamboyant sort, prompting Gretchen's stern father to repeatedly balk at the "gayness" of the whole thing. We later learn that Edmundo is in a homosexual relationship. And Doug and Jimmy dance at a stranger's wedding reception, giving the impression that they're a gay couple. A snapshot in Jimmy's office features a newly married male couple kissing.
Doug and Gretchen live together, and we see her in a formfitting nightwear top that leaves no doubt she's not wearing a bra. A stripper hides a pistol in her cleavage. Women at several different wedding receptions wear very low-cut gowns. A groomsman rips his shirt open to show off his chiseled physique. Another groomsman repeatedly exposes his third testicle to people (out of the camera's view).
One of the strippers reports that she's only 15. One of the groomsmen talks about his sexual trysts in prison. Jimmy says a really close friend is someone who "knows where your porn stash is." Crude and obscene jokes deal with sexual body parts, casual sex and the "automatic" association of priests with child-molestation.
Doug's groomsmen "kidnap" him for the bachelor party, tying his hands and pulling a sack over his head. They proceed to toss him forcefully into the back of their truck. As they speed off, the truck's lift gate crashes open, dumping Doug into the street. After being barely missed and spun about by speeding traffic, he runs to the nearest curb and trips, hitting the sidewalk face-first.
Doug's glass desk shatters, leaving him lying in a pile of shards. He and Jimmy are slammed and beaten into the mud while playing a "friendly" football game with Gretchen's dad and his former football team friends. A young boy is purposely pushed out into a baseball pitching machine's line of fire. A group of adult guys are later subject to the same thumping torment.
A police chase smashes up vehicles, signs and roadblocks, ultimately sending a van full of people shooting some 20 feet into the air before crashing back down. Edmundo punches Gretchen's father in the face. An older woman is accidentally set ablaze, and the flames roar high before they're put out.
Crude or Profane Language
Over 50 f-words. About 60 s-words. We hear repeated uses of "a--," "h---" and "b--ch." Crude, rude and randy mentions of male and female body parts create even more verbal chaos. A guy flips his middle finger at someone. God's name is misused over a dozen times (usually combined with "d--n").
Drug and Alcohol Content
We see several weddings besotted by beer, wine and champagne. Doug and Jimmy crash one party to down shots and a full bottle of booze. During the bachelor party, Doug's motley crew of drunken groomsmen and some of the strippers pile into a van and start guzzling hard liquor along with entire bottles of pills (as a police car approaches). Visiting the wedding planner's home, Jimmy and Doug watch as the man smokes weed from a coconut shell bong.
Other Negative Elements
If you were to measure this movie's worth on a thoroughly modern comedy tally sheet, it would be easy to see that it has some assets. Leads Kevin Hart and Josh Gad are funny guys with gifts for rapid-fire line delivery and the ability to land a full-body pratfall. And the pic even manages to supplement their shtick with a few thoughtful statements about men's need for friendship and the immeasurable value of finding a true soul mate for your marital match.
But those aren't the only things on that ledger, even if some folks will refuse to admit it. The Wedding Ringer has more f- and s-word laced crudities and ear-burning blasphemies than a burlesque routine has cymbal crashes. Its characters are many times hateful, selfish and lewd. And nasty visuals—including a lock-jawed bestiality scene—splash around just as much as the liquor does.
It's a dead ringer for a goofy-faced jester who makes you giggle … before hitting you with a clown-car full of rancid cream pie.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Josh Gad as Doug Harris; Kevin Hart as Jimmy Callahan/Bic; Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting as Gretchen Palmer; Ken Howard as Ed Palmer; Mimi Rogers as Mrs. Palmer; Ignacio Serricchio as Edmundo
Jeremy Garelick ( )
January 16, 2015
April 28, 2015