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Movie Review

Hey, ‘Breakfast Club’ fans, your table is ready

Tony Revolori and Anna Kendrick in “Table 19.”

Jace Downs/Fox Searchlight

Tony Revolori and Anna Kendrick in “Table 19.”

Flash back to 1985, and a showing of “The Breakfast Club” at the local multiplex. We watch Judd Nelson righteously pump his fist, and we hear the soundtrack crank up “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” Fade out.

Jump ahead to here and now. Sure enough, that moment has stayed with us. But the makers of “Table 19” have really taken Simple Minds’ lyrical directive to heart. The Anna Kendrick-led ensemble dramedy about a random collection of wedding guests is one big adult paean to that old adolescent screen staple, from the unlikely bonding to the way-’80s music to the wacky tobacky scene.

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And we’re still suckers for it.

Not that Kendrick’s likably neurotic Eloise was necessarily set on being at the wedding at all. The movie’s amusing quick-hit opener shows just how torturously she’s vacillating over her invite after being unceremoniously dumped by the bride’s goofball brother (Wyatt Russell, “Everybody Wants Some!!”). Squabbling married couple Bina (Lisa Kudrow) and Jerry (Craig Robinson) also have differing opinions about attending, as do dorky, pent-up teen Rezno (Tony Revolori) and his advice-spouting mom (never seen, but certainly heard). It seems the only one who’s unequivocally excited is cartoonishly awkward Walter (Stephen Merchant), who jumps at the weekend pass from his white-collar incarceration.

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Scorned Eloise explains in a rapid-fire head-count sequence just how low they rank in the overall seating-assignment hierarchy. (The film could do with more of these contemporary touches.) But writer-director Jeffrey Blitz (the Oscar-nominated documentary “Spellbound”) does decent work giving them stories that matter, with pink-hatted little old lady Jo (June Squibb, “Nebraska”) prying loose the juiciest dramatic reveals. You’ll give a pass to an Eloise “surprise” that’s telegraphed for a biggie that’s not.

Ultimately, these lovable losers’ respective arcs can’t all be winners. (Hey, “Breakfast Club” had its “basket case,” too.) Kudrow and Robinson are intriguing casting and they get some sharp Bickersons material, but the movie unconvincingly shorthands how they got together. And Revolori’s horndog just feels like the film coasting on his quirky persona from “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Still, it’s hugely entertaining watching Merchant again play a real-life, googly-eyed “Wallace & Gromit” ’toon — you know, with cellmate gags. (It’s a good week for Merchant, between this and his unexpected role in “Logan.”) It’s also fun watching Kendrick play broken up rather than all put together for a change. For a table of leftovers, this group makes things pretty fresh.


TABLE 19

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Directed by Jeffrey Blitz. Written by Blitz, Jay Duplass, and Mark Duplass. Starring Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Merchant, June Squibb, Tony Revolori. At Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs. 87 minutes. PG-13 (thematic elements, sexual content, drug use, language, some brief nudity).

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.
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