Table 19 (2017) – Available on Amazon & VUDU

 

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By Melissa Antoinette Garza

 

If there is one type of movie that I adore, it’s when a band of misfits unify and find out things about themselves that they didn’t know.  LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006), WE ARE THE MILLERS (2013), SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) and most recently THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2017) are all great examples of portraying comradeship at work.

I saw the trailer for TABLE 19 (2017) months ago and kept it on my radar ever since.  Upon release, I immediately purchased it ignoring the Rotten Tomatoes score of 23%.  Ignoring Rotten Tomatoes generally works out in my favor.

One of my favorite modern actresses is Anna Kendrick.  Alongside Sam Rockwell, she made MR. RIGHT one of the best films of 2016.  I also have a crush on Stephen Merchant, especially when Ricky Gervais is nowhere to be found.  I like Gervais.  I love Merchant, but when they get together on a podcast or reality show, they become boorish and bring out the worst in one another.

Well with TABLE 19, if the band of misfits who unify, and Kendrick and Merchant in starring roles wasn’t enough to dive in head first, finding out Mark and Jay Duplass wrote the screenplay, was.  Mark Duplass is well known for his role in THE LEAGUE (2009) and co-wrote CREEP (2014) which is one of the greatest horror films in recent times.

After seeing IT COMES AT NIGHT (2017) I needed something good.  IT COMES AT NIGHT and DON’T BREATHE were the worst big budget films I’ve seen in a long time and both scored 87% on Rotten Tomatoes!  I loathe RottenTomatoes.com.

That said, did TABLE 19 live up to the hype I instilled upon it?  Yes!  It actually exceeded my already high expectations.

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The movie opens with a group of people getting invitations to a wedding.  Eloise (Anna Kendrick) dropped out of being the maid-of-honor because she was dumped by the best-man/brother of the bride, Teddy (Wyatt Russell).  Despite being dumped, she opts to still attend the wedding and is seated at the last table reserved for rejects.

Among the table is Bina (Lisa Kudrow) and Jerry Kepp (Craig Robinson) who are going through marital difficulties, the bride’s first nanny Jo Flanagan (June Squibb), cousin of the bride and felon who lives in a halfway house Walter Thimble (Stephen Merchant), and high-school kid Renzo (Tony Revolori) who is looking to do whatever necessary to get a girl.  He even misses his junior prom to go to the wedding and the urging of his mother (Margo Martindale).

Each character is incredibly likable and despite being strangers have more in common than what’s on the surface.  The strife, depression and awkwardness connects them despite Eloise attempting to keep emotional distance.

When watching Teddy, Eloise meets a handsome stranger who helps her make Teddy jealous.  Huck (Thomas Concquerel) seems to be a viable romantic interest for Eloise and the film is successful at pushing for the duo to get together.

Still, most everyone is holding a secret, no one wants to reveal their flaws.  There are people who on the surface seem cruel and uncaring, but have their own self-doubt and there are people who seem intuitive and attractive, but are withholding crucial information.

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TABLE 19 hit me in ways I didn’t anticipate.  I thought it was just going to be a comedy.  Instead, it really does have the same tone as LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE which is hard to emulate.  The film triggered something within me.  It’s about self-recognition, taking responsibility and controlling your own life.  It shows how easily a group of strangers can have so much in common despite age, race, gender, and experiences.  This felt like something Rod Serling would’ve written.  It’s almost like looking at a self-portrait.

That’s not to say it’s all drama.  It’s not.  There are moments that are off-the-wall hilarious, but there’s also times it will make you cry.

Part of me wanted Walter to end up with Eloise because he was such a sweetheart.  Merchant portrayed the character with such a level of innocence and willingness to help anyone.  His need to be liked made me love him.

I can’t recommend this film enough.  It’s as significant as THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1985), 12 ANGRY MEN (1957) and THE WARRIORS (1979).  It’s a currently unrecognized but sure to be remembered as a classic.  I don’t suggest renting it.  This is one to watch again and again, each time getting something else out of it, finding brilliant moments of foreshadowing not previously noticed and each time discovering something about yourself; and it also has a kick-ass soundtrack.

It’s a rarity when a movie recognizes that people aren’t cool lines or familiar tropes, but instead so many facets that come together in effort to fit in somewhere and the search to find out where that somewhere is.  Kudos to the entire cast and crew that brought that level of realism to the screen.

 

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Scared Stiff Rating: 10/10