Movie review: The Wedding Ringer celebrates bromance

Josh Gad (left) is the friendless groom who meets a hustler best man for hire (Kevin Hart, right). -- PHOTO: SONY PICTURES
Josh Gad (left) is the friendless groom who meets a hustler best man for hire (Kevin Hart, right). -- PHOTO: SONY PICTURES

Review Comedy

THE WEDDING RINGER (NC16)

112 minutes/Opens tomorrow/**

The story: Lonesome tax attorney Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is getting married to a hot woman, Gretchen Palmer (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), whom he considers to be way out of his league. The chubby Harris has absolutely no male friends to be the best man for his wedding. In desperation, he turns to Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), a professional best man for hire who runs a wedding-services agency called Best Man, Inc.

There is nothing here in this frat boy-crazy bro-fest that we have not already seen in previous incarnations covered by The Hangover posse, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.

Vaughn and Wilson actually made their own wicked wedding flick - 2005's Wedding Crashers - about two horny dudes crashing nuptials just to score with the women gathered there.

Anyway, the union celebrated here is man- and-man, not man-and-woman; bromance and not romance. And in this, The Wedding Ringer actually does score some points as Hart (Think Like A Man, 2012) and Gad (Jobs, 2013) do share pretty good chemistry.

As the ringer - slang for imposter - Hart is Callahan, the super-fast-mouth hustler - post-Chris Rock, Chris Tucker and Eddie Murphy - with all the answers, evil ideas and party moves straight out of a happening Jay Z music video.

He is the best man for hire, wedding coach and pretend-pal who delivers a bunch of phony best friends-groomsmen, fake photo shoots of skydiving, mountain-climbing and other wild buddy-bonding adventures.

This group of utterly unfunny, un-pretty groomsmen-weirdos is truly a sight to exorcise out of your mind immediately.

Somehow, you just know that along with the checklist of geriatric, gay, handicapped, priest and dog jaws-on-crotch jokes ticked off here, there is bound to be somebody so outrageously harmed in such a generically comical way that would make entire families in real life grieve uncontrollably for generations.

As Harris the groom, Gad is a schmuck who is so totally friendless that he starts to like the strange sensation of happy male bonding mapped out by his newfound false pal - even when he falls dangerously, comically, out of a pick-up while being kidnapped for his own babelicious bachelor party.

But, in fairy tales like this, there is an ominous caveat, of course: "This is a business relationship. Doesn't mean we're going to be best friends," the hustler warns the customer.

But surely you must know where this will lead to - men will always fall ridiculously in love, in a heterosexual way, with each other.

All this is made conveniently easier by the way the main gal - Gretchen the bride - is portrayed in such a dubious, unlikeable and irrelevant way that you know she would be the baggage to be dumped at crunch time.

If not for Hart and Gad making up some love and warmth between them, this wedding deal might have been called off.