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Posts Tagged ‘Craig Robinson’

The outcasts of Table 19 The outcasts of Table 19 (left to right):

The outcasts of Table 19 (left to right): Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, June Squibb, Stephen Merchant, Anna Kendrick, Tony Revolori

“TABLE 19”  My rating: B-

90 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

If you can get past a few improbabilities (not difficult, given the solid cast), “Table 19” offers a sneakily compelling blend of farce and realism.

The setup could have been pulled from almost any TV sitcom: Six individuals have been invited to a wedding but at the reception find themselves seated at the furthest table from the action. It’s pretty clear that they’ve been assigned to wedding Siberia.

Our protagonist is Eloise (Anna Kendrick, who has the knack of making a crying scene both touching and hilarious). Until  two months ago she was the designated maid of honor and the long-time squeeze of the bride’s brother, Teddy (Wyatt Russell).

But Teddy dumped her (via email, for crissakes) and now, after retreating into a funk, Eloise has shown up to claim her seat — at far-flung Table 19.

Her fellow exiles include a bickering couple (Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson) who are only there because of a distant business connection with the bride’s father; the bride’s former nanny (June Squibb); the groom’s socially inept cousin (Stephen Merchant), a former jailbird (for embezzlement) now living in a halfway house; and a teen dweeb (Tony Revolori…he was the bellboy in “Grand Budapest Hotel”) desperate to lose his virginity in what he has been told is the sexually-charged atmosphere of a wedding party.

“Table 19” works not only because of the deliciously droll performances, but because director Jeffrey Blintz (who hit the documentary sweet spot with 2002’s “Spellbound” before turning to TV’s “The Office”) and co-writers Jay and Mark Duplass (“The Puffy Chair,” “Baghead,” “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” HBO’s “Togetherness”) are so sneaky about giving us broadly comic characters and then methodically revealing the humans underneath.

The film sets us up to expect standard-issue plot developments, then yanks out the rug with unexpected twists and character issues.

Don’t want to build up “Table 19” too much…its pleasures are modest ones. Yet  the ability to leave audiences hovering somewhere between a snort and a sob should not be dismissed.

Especially in the armpit months of the film release calendar.

| Robert W. Butler

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sausage-party-post1“SAUSAGE PARTY”  My rating: B

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The animated “Sausage Party” is so thick with puerile sexuality that a viewer must choose between bailing on the whole experience or embracing it in a spirit of unfettered adolescent humor.

I  mean, here’s an R-rated movie about a hot dog named Frank (Seth Rogen) who dreams that Brenda (Kristen Wiig), the bun he has worshipped from afar, will open up and allow him to nestle his full length in her soft, spongy interior.

Other characters include a lesbian taco with a Mexican accent, a bottle of tequila that talks like a wise old Indian chief, a neurotic jar of honey mustard, a box of grits and even a used condom. Then there’s  Lavosh — a Middle Eastern wrap — who is always exchanging insults with a Jewish bagel. The villain of the piece is the megalomaniac Douche (yes, a feminine hygiene product).

These characters are brought to life by a Who’s Who of voice talent that includes Salma Hayek, Bill Hader, David Krumholtz, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Edward Norton, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd and James Franco.

Narratively “Sausage Party” feels likes something a bunch of stoners dreamed up at 2 in the morning (duh).

It’s July 3 in the supermarket, and all of the products sitting on the shelves are pumped because so many of them will be “chosen” by the “gods” (i.e., human shoppers) and taken out of the store to what they are sure will be a paradisiacal eternity in the Great Beyond. They  celebrate their imminent liberation in a rousing song (music by Alan Menken).

Frank and his fellow wieners (they’re crammed in eight to a package) have been gazing lustfully at a nearby package of buns (six to a package…go figure), awaiting the day they will be joined in the hereafter,  “where all your wildest and wettest dreams come true.”

(more…)

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