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Posts Tagged ‘stephen merchant’

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Full disclosure: I was on a long flight and simply looking for an undemanding film to pass a couple of hours. I stumbled across Table 19, which I had never even heard of before; however, it featured Lisa Kudrow and Stephen Merchant and I thought it might be worth a watch. Also, I like films that play out in real time or at least over the course of one day or night, so I put this on, not sure what to expect.

The story opens with Eloise (Anna Kendrick) who has been ousted from her role as bridesmaid at her friend Francie’s wedding, due to being unceremoniously dumped by the best man Teddy – who is also Francie’s brother. Deliberating whether or not she should still attend the wedding at all, Eloise eventually decides to go and finds herself seated at Table 19. It soon dawns on everyone at the table that they are the people who nobody really wanted there, the people who were invited out of a sense of duty, the people who should have had the common sense to say they couldn’t attend.

As well as Eloise, there are Diner owners Bina and Jerry Kepp (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), Facebook friends with the groom’s father, who owns a chain of diners; Francie’s childhood nanny Jo (June Squibb), Renzo Eckberg (Tony Revolori), whose family are distantly acquainted with the wedding party and who has come to the wedding with the hope of finally getting a girlfriend; and Walter Thimble (Stephen Merchant) who is a nephew of the groom and currently on parole.

After an awkward first meeting, the group get to know each other – secrets are revealed, truths come to light – and they start to actually quite like each other. Eloise meets an enigmatic stranger named Huck, but he may not be all he seems…

This film was a very pleasant surprise, and I’m not sure how or why it slipped under the radar and is so little known. Of course I picked it because it was the sort of film I like, but I don’t think I expected to like it quite as much as I did. All of the characters were very well played, and I ended up liking and finding sympathy for each one of this mismatched crew of new friends.

It mixes comedy with poignancy very well and I liked the ending a lot too. Yes, it’s a bit quirky and certainly not the kind of thing everyone likes – if action movies are your thing, then this is probably not the film for you. But if you like a bit of human drama and characters who aren’t afraid to foul up sometimes and laugh at themselves, give it a try!

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Year of release: 2017

Director: Jeffrey Blitz

Writers: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Jeffrey Blitz

Main cast: Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, June Squibb, Stephen Merchant, Tony Revolori, Wyatt Russell,

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In this romcom (actually it’s more of an unrom-com, in that it has the comedy but is not romantic!), struggling writer Josh (Rafe Spall) and high-flyer Nat (Rose Byrne) have a whirlwind romance and get married after seven months. Only then does reality set in and they begin to realise that they don’t know each other that well, and may not be at all compatible. Further complications arise in the shape of Josh’s ex-girlfriend Chloe (Anna Faris) who clearly still loves him, and American businessman Guy (Simon Baker) who has immediate chemistry with Rose when he hires her firm to do some work for him.

There are laughs-a-plenty in this film – and as a warning, if you don’t like crude humour then I’d recommend you avoid this, as there is a lot of crudeness and toilet humour – but as alluded to above, not a whole lot of romance, at least not between the two leads. I did think the main four actors all played their parts remarkably well, even if there was not much chemistry between Josh and Nat. Or maybe that was the point – they seemed to click with other people but not with each other.

Stephen Merchant plays Danny, Josh’s best friend and best man, whose speech at the wedding made me wince with embarrassment, and who always seemed to know exactly the wrong thing to say! Because of this, his scenes were amongst the funniest for me, although possibly amongst the most annoying for some viewers. It’s also worth mentioning Minnie Driver and Jason Flenyng as unhappily married – or are they? – friends of Nat. Minnie Driver has a real talent for comedy and it shows in her acerbic character here. Olivia Colman also shines in her small role as marriage counsellor who obviously has problems in her own relationship!

I won’t spoil the ending but I will say that it was unexpected, and I liked that. Overall, if you are looking for some good belly laughs and an undemanding storyline, then give this a try.

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Year of release: 2013

Director: Dan Mazer

Writer: Dan Mazer

Main cast: Rafe Spall, Rose Byrne, Simon Baker, Anna Faris, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, Stephen Merchant

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