About a year ago, I was trolling IMDB for upcoming movies to add to my fifty thousand page “Must Watch” list and I saw something called Table 19. The premise instantly piqued my interest. Every wedding has that table. The table near the bathroom that houses all the “randoms” who you weren’t expecting to R.S.V.P yes. Well, I guess not every wedding as mine was twenty people large and we sat at two tables that awkwardly divided the families like Capulets and Montagues. I have had the honor of being at Table 19 at a wedding (although in that case it was the more dubious Table 13), and I love the idea of the ragtag group of strays that are put at that table becoming friends and helping each other to improve their status both at the wedding and in life. As usually happens with things that I put on that completely useless “Must Watch” list, I forgot all about it until last month when I saw the trailer and was like “oh yeah, I want to see that! I have to watch the list in order though and I still haven’t watched Snatch, There Will be Blood, Desperately Seeking Susan, Bad Santa…”. I loathe that list. If I whittle it down a page, it means I’ve neglected my kid, my husband, and all worthwhile pursuits just so I can say “Why yes, I have seen Blue Velvet” if that were to ever come up in conversation. I should burn that list. And by burn it I mean gently place it in the Recycle Bin on my computer.
Table 19 popped up online as a DVD copy streaming option and even though it was a Thursday and Thursday nights are usually reserved for washing baby bottles, swigging wine from the fridge door and going to bed so early ninety-year-olds think we are lame, I loaded it up and sat my husband down next to me. We even threw caution to the wind and turned the volume up so loud that we could hear it without leaning towards the screen because we were feeling crazy.
Watching this movie was a lot like going to an actual wedding, in that I went into it psyched and ready for a good time, but by the middle I was kind of bored and searching the room for somebody to make bad choices with. Unfortunately for my husband, who was the only other person in the room besides this unsettlingly large sock monkey the LO got for her birthday
The movie picked back up during the big midway reveal when the motley crew from the eponymous table decide to band together. We start to peel back the layers of each individual character and you might not think there would be any in a simple premise comedy like this but there was some Shrek like complexity to these people. Let’s start with the pot smoking nanny with the pipe in her purse whose astute observations are more startling than her flaming wig. Speaking of the nanny, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all chat with the childhood nanny of our exes to hear about the jerk-in-training warning signs of their youth.
The cheerleader effect is definitely at play with this group. Individually, I don’t think I’d hang out with any of them, but as a group they are magic and I wanted to slunk over to that table and join them in their misfit antics. When they change out of their wedding clothes (how or when is a little hazy) and venture outdoors, they break into pairs and you are reminded that they are just a bunch of sad sacks with white people problems (even the two minorities), apart from the man who just got out of prison who is in fact a white British male (how refreshing!). Eventually they regroup in the ballroom at their bathroom-adjacent table and I was back to wishing they were my friends. Much like a wedding, this movie had ebbs and flows in terms of entertainment quality.
Hubby and I both laughed at the hilarity of Anna Kendrick’s big declaration of love to a man sailing away on some weird wedding boat holding 85% of the guests. She shouted her apology speech while the jerk driving the boat railed on his horn for I guess necessary nautical reasons? You think the guy is going to dive off the boat and sweep Anna up in a movie-ending embrace but instead after a pause he shouts “…What?” and continues on his jolly way. Its awkward and great. The movie is full of anti-romcom moments. For instance, when the group tracks down the cute wedding crasher Anna had connected with earlier only to find him dancing with his shiny new bride at his own wedding down the hall.
True to its wedding format, the last scene is of the group from Table 19 dancing to the music of the world’s most dedicated wedding band in the wee hours of the morning. Two of them do the signature move from The Breakfast Club and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized how much this movie reminded me of that one. I suppose it makes sense and perhaps its just because this is day three without sleep for me (let’s just say they had better be the world’s most adorable molars) that I didn’t see it. A group of people who would otherwise never spend time together are forced into an unlikely friendship that goes on beyond their release from the social or institutional prison that bound them together.
I like to think they went to class like this come Monday