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Don’t go through ‘The Wedding Ringer’

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Catholic News Service

Moviegoers should avoid putting themselves through “The Wedding Ringer.” What could have been a touching comedy bogs down instead in juvenile nastiness.

Doug Harris’ (Josh Gad) betrothal to girl-beyond-his dreams, at least where looks are concerned, Gretchen Palmer (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) presents the otherwise delighted husband-to-be with a difficulty: Lacking any close friends, he has no one to stand by him at the altar.

Josh Gad and Kevin Hart star in a scene from the movie "The Wedding Ringer." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.(CNS photo/Sony
Josh Gad and Kevin Hart star in a scene from the movie “The Wedding Ringer.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.(CNS photo/Sony

So, on the advice of extravagantly effeminate wedding planner Edmundo (Ignacio Serricchio), Doug seeks out the services of best-man-for-hire Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart). For a price, Jimmy agrees to supply not only his own presence for the big day, but that of a hastily assembled crew of fake groomsmen.

Despite Jimmy’s rule that his relationships with clients must remain strictly professional, he’s only posing as their bosom buddy, the script sketchily traces his burgeoning affinity with Doug. Like Doug, Jimmy is an unwilling loner whose work dominates his life.

The screenplay also scores a few points off the kind of run-amok romanticism that leads brides like Gretchen to obsess over wedding details instead of concentrating on the solidity of the marriage to follow. In her case, it turns out, the forthcoming nuptials are based on the shakiest of foundations, with both future spouses acting out of shallow motives.

The potentially enjoyable proceedings first go seriously awry when Doug informs Jimmy that the nonexistent closest pal he’s going to be impersonating has been described to Gretchen as a Catholic military chaplain.

This revelation opens the way for dialogue highlighting Jimmy’s frustration with such a role, hookups with bridesmaids normally being one of the perks of his job. It also leads into supposedly humorous swipes at the clergy sex abuse scandal.

By the time Jimmy and Doug cement their bond amid a wild bachelor party, good taste has been left so far behind that Garelick and Lavender actually try to garner giggles by involving a dog in a sex act.

A glimpse into Edmundo’s private life, which shows his light-in-the-loafers persona to be entirely an act, is obviously intended as a jab at the stereotyping of gay men. Yet the sequence goes on, paradoxically, to mainstream homosexual unions by showing them to be as quarrelsome as marriage.

The film contains anti-Catholic and irreverent humor, strong sexual content, including depraved activity with partial frontal nudity, a frivolous treatment of homosexuality, about a dozen uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive.