The Wedding Ringer Isn't A Comedy Classic, But It'll Do.

The Wedding Ringer.
Director: Jeremy Garelick.
Writers: Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender.
Cast: Josh Gad, Kevin Hart, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Olivia Thirlby.
Playing: Wide.

Just as Kevin Hart's title character feels no guilt in getting paid to pretend to be some schmuck's best man, The Wedding Ringer feels no shame in stealing from other successful romantic comedies — Hitch, I Love You Man and Wedding Crashers — for its formula.

And that's OK. Listen: If it's originality you seek, you missed Top Five last month. Now, it's January; you're coming to a theater for some cheap laughs is all. And, for all of its faults, The Wedding Ringer wildly succeeds in doling those out.

As Jimmy, who's been hired by Doug (Josh Gad bringing a melancholy that's not on the page) to be his best man and also bring in seven other groomsmen to match his fiancee's bridesmaids, Kevin Hart continues here his unimpeded streak of just being Kevin Hart onscreen. And while he's long proven himself perfect in bit parts, he doesn't miss a beat as the co-lead.

If you've seen any of the movies mentioned above, you know exactly where this is all going. And, hey, that's all right for a movie opening in the dead of winter. Lots of movies are shameless rip-offs; all that matters is if the film accused of this can do it well. And while your mileage may vary, I found myself laughing a lot.

Sure, there are more than a few jokes that fall flat. And the film relies way too much on gags where two friends are mistaken for a couple. But those bits, I'll say, are at least consistently funny — and they more than make up for what this film subjects the sweet, 88-year-old, Oscar-winning Cloris Leachman to, as well as the fact that Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, playing Doug's bride-to-be, is just the worst. Cuoco-Sweeting's role here is fairly remarkable, actually; her role is written as a gold-digging shrew, and I can't tell if it makes Cuoco-Sweeting a good actress or a bad actress that the character comes off as so loathsome. That turn, meanwhile, is the polar opposite of what we get from Olivia Thirbly's portrayal of Cuoco-Sweeting's sister and maid of honor: She's written as the ultimate cool girl and acts circles around everyone else while getting that much across; throughout the film, she's just got this look about her that lets you know she's too good for this shit, and she probably is.

Looking for a cinematic quickie this weekend, a movie you'll enjoy but probably won't remember by the time summer rolls around? More Mr. Right Now than Mr. Right, The Wedding Ringer is just the guy you seek.

Grade: B-.

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