Kevin Hart is a brand name. Employing his rapid-fire delivery and manic, irreverent presence, he’s in the driver’s seat again for his latest comedy romp, “The Wedding Ringer.”
The standout star of such previous films as “Think Like a Man,” “Think Like a Man Too” and “About Last Night,” Hart largely sticks to what worked for him in the past in “The Wedding Ringer.” It’s a broad, crude, large-ensemble project featuring wild, loud, crazy situations.
Speaking of situations, “The Wedding Ringer’s” core setup could easily be the premise for a sitcom. Hart stars as the extremely successful founder, owner and CEO of Best Man, Inc.
In one of “The Wedding Ringer’s” more serious scenes, Hart explains the inspiration for his unusual but very successful company during a heavy handed, but warm, heart-to-heart with his new client. To his surprise, Hart learned that many grooms-to-be have no male friends. For a price, Hart will act the part of best man. Josh Gad co-stars as Doug Harris, a chubby Jewish nerd who asks Hart for help. The movie is confident enough in Gad’s character to open with Doug’s so-sad-it’s-funny neediness.
Doug calls a series of men he’s known through the years. His search yields discouraging responses. One of the kinder candidates says, “I feel like we’re not at that level.” Another one says, “I didn’t invite you to my wedding.” And another says, “I heard you died.”
In contrast to the pleading Doug, all alone in his office, the film introduces Hart’s Jimmy Callahan in the act of being the life of a wedding party. Hart has all the outsized energy and personality needed for his role as a professional party-starter.
Some scenes in “The Wedding Ringer” feature Hart being something other than his usual high-velocity, chaos-sparking funny man. Maybe his Jimmy character isn’t the strictly professional hustler he thinks he is.
But slapstick and situational comedy are a Hart movie’s moneymakers. The movie delivers on those counts, even though it briefly messes with the proven formula. And so the makers of “The Wedding Ringer” shoehorn prerequisite celebration scenes and extremely implausible plot turns into Hart’s party mix. Things get crazy, physical, bawdy. That’s the drill.