Weddings can be such joyous events. Unless, of course, you’re the ex-maid of honor.
And, through no fault of her own, that’s exactly what Eloise McGarry is. She was supposed to be standing alongside her best friend, Francie Millner, at the altar, right across from the best man, Teddy, who’s also her boyfriend and the bride’s brother.
Then … Teddy dumped Eloise. Two months before the wedding. By text. “Good luck with your future endeavors,” it said.
But brave Eloise has decided to attend the blessed event anyway. She wants to prove to herself that she’s really over Teddy; that she’s not emotional anymore (never mind that she partially burned the RSVP); that she’s ready to move on with her life on her terms; that it’s all going to be OK.
Of course, she’s not going to be seated at the head table anymore. No, no, no, that spot has been passed along to Teddy’s new girlfriend, Nikki.
Instead, Eloise gets the last seat at the last table. A table that Francie has designated for the “random” people who somehow still merited a courtesy invitation. The kind of people brides secretly hope don’t actually show up. The kind of people brides might not actually notice even if they do show up.
And what a random collection the folks at Table 19 are. Elderly but feisty Jo Flanagan was Francie’s first nanny, never mind that barely anyone in the family even recognizes her. (She’s brought her dog, Ringo, too.) Rezno Eckberg is a junior in high school, and his mom has sent him as a family representative (after coaching him endlessly and inappropriately on how weddings are a great place to hook up with young women, something awkward-but-eager Rezno has absolutely no experience with). Diner owners Bina and Jerry Kepp are at the end of their marital rope, with their conflicts spilling awkwardly out in front of everyone. And tall and gangly Walter Thimple desperately wants everyone to believe he’s a successful businessman … though he obviously isn’t.
It is a random assortment of wedding-guest leftovers if ever there was one. Yet despite some uncomfortable moments early, each of them plays a part in helping Eloise work through her overwhelming emotions when it becomes painfully obvious that she’s not over Teddy.
Nope, not one little bit.
The first half of the film seems to offer a cynical, pessimistic view of marriage. Jokes are made at the expense of many in Francie’s family, and it’s clear that there’s enormous tension and dysfunction all throughout her clan.
Obviously, that’s not good. But just about the time you think the film’s not going to do much more than take cheap comedic shots at marriage, it begins to turn a surprisingly earnest corner. The group of acquaintances at Table 19 begin to enjoy one another as they rally to help Eloise deal with her heartbreak.
Along the way, Eloise and Teddy move toward a reconciliation and recommitment to each other. Meanwhile, Bina and Jerry reconnect emotionally as well when he realizes that his wife has been on the verge of having an affair. Throughout these intertwined stories, the film ultimately affirms that marriage and family are good things, but that having a good marriage takes work, humility and commitment—poignant themes in a movie that feels like a lightweight, disposable romcom for about the first 45 minutes.
Near the conclusion, Eloise tells Teddy, “If you’re ready to be the person who always forgives me, I’m ready to be the person who always forgives you.”
Rezno’s mother says that his “manhood” reflects the “glory of God.”
Several women wear cleavage-baring outfits. Bina and Jerry are shown kissing as they shower together (we see only their bare shoulders). Eloise is shown looking at herself in the mirror in a clingy slip and undergarments. Walter’s roommate (at the halfway house where they live) twice crawls into the bunk above his completely naked (we see the man’s bare torso from the side, as well as his unclothed backside). Walter talks graphically about the tattoo the man has on his penis.
Bina says that she found a search term that her husband had used online looking for a topless celebrity. (That term prompts Rezno to imitate the search, and we see him looking at an image of a woman in her underwear on his phone.)
Rezno desperately wants to have sex with someone. He hits on a girl his age, bragging about the size of his genitals, which horrifies her and prompts an older man at her table to tell him to leave. Rezno hits on a middle-aged woman who says she would be willing to have sex with him in a few years (which causes the boy to consider the wedding a success). We see Rezno holding condom packages.
A mystery man flirts with Eloise, dances with her and kisses her before disappearing. We later learn that he was the groom at another wedding taking place simultaneously in the hotel, and that he’s apparently not happy to be tying the knot with his own bride. Walter also mistakenly thinks at one point that Bina wants to have sex with him. (She doesn’t.) Bina had intended to have an affair with an old flame at the hotel, but her husband unexpectedly joins her (and figures out what her intent was), and the would-be paramour never shows up.
We hear a joking reference to a one-night stand during one of the wedding toasts. There’s also a line about how much the services of a “hooker” cost, as well as a gross verbal scenario involving a man’s genitals.
[Spoiler Warning] Jo susses out Eloise’s secret: She’s pregnant with Teddy’s baby. That revelation changes the emotional tenor of the movie, and the couple eventually gets back together after several back-and-forth conversations about whether or not Eloise wants to keep the baby. (The word abortion is never used, but the implication of that possibility is present.) The last scene shows them tenderly caring for their baby as they send their own wedding invitations out.
Clumsy adolescent Rezno repeatedly has a hard time sitting down, and falls onto the floor and the ground instead. As mentioned, Eloise partially burns her RSVP before extinguishing the flaming response card. Rezno quotes a statistic about death, saying, “One hundred fifty people die every second.”
CRUDE OR PROFANE LANGUAGE
One partially voiced f-word, another fully spoken. About 20 s-words. God’s name is misused about 25 times, including once with “d–n.” Jesus’ name is abused once. We hear “a–hole” five times and “d–khead” once. A married couple gives each other a crude hand gesture simultaneously.
DRUG AND ALCOHOL CONTENT
Wedding guests and family members drink wine, beer and champagne throughout the film. The bride’s mother is so drunk that she passes out at her table. Rezno’s mom thinks he might have a chance to hook up with a young woman at the event because, she says, “Girls are always drunk and emotional at weddings.”
Jo invites everyone up to her room to smoke marijuana. We see her fill up a pipe with the stuff, and several of the people from Table 19 smoke it (though not Eloise). Eloise discerns that the drug is of the medicinal variety and rightly guesses that Jo is using it for pain because she’s terminally ill.
OTHER NEGATIVE ELEMENTS
Eloise and her crew steal a wedding cake from another ceremony after accidentally destroying Francie’s cake. Eloise also vomits at the table. Walter doesn’t tell the truth about who he really is, a relative who embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the father of the bride before eventually going to prison. Jerry refuses to use the hotel’s bathtub because, he says, “People do unconscionable things in hotel bathrooms.”
Actress Anna Kendrick has built her career on playing quirky, spunky, sassy, lovable characters. She’s effortlessly slotted into another such role here, that of quirky, spunky, sassy, lovable Eloise McGarry.
Eloise desperately wants to convince herself that she’s fine in the wake of her breakup with Teddy. But she’s not. Eventually, we learn that there’s a lot more going on than just a romantic disappointment.
Table 19 initially seems wary and suspicious about the prospect of long-term marital happiness. No one in the bride’s family seems to be experiencing it; neither are Bina and Jerry. In the end, though, the movie reaffirms love, marriage and parenthood as good things. It suggests that second chances and forgiveness are not only possible, but a part of what makes a good marriage work.
Table 19 delivers an unexpectedly sweet ending by the time the credits role. Less sweet, however, is this PG-13 film’s frequent profanity and sexual innuendo, as well as winks at marijuana use, content I wish the filmmakers could have chosen to seat at a different cinematic table.
Copyright 2016 Focus On The Family and www.Pluggedin.com
Bob Waliszewski’s List of Family-Friendly-Movies!
Beyond the Mask
The Book Thief
The Drop Box
Far from the Madding Crowd
God’s Not Dead
The Good Lie