Film of the Week: The Wedding Ringer (15) ***

The Wedding Ringer. Pictured: Doug (Josh Gad) and Jimmy (Kevin Hart).Picture: PA Photo/Matt Kennedy/Screen Gems/Sony.
The Wedding Ringer. Pictured: Doug (Josh Gad) and Jimmy (Kevin Hart).Picture: PA Photo/Matt Kennedy/Screen Gems/Sony.
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It is supposed to be the happiest day of a couple’s life but a wedding is seldom the stress-free parade of well-behaved children, appropriate jokes, sobriety and family harmony promised by glossy bridal magazines.

A single delay or mishap can become a wrecking ball that demolishes months of meticulous and expensive preparation.

And just when it seems the worst is over and everyone can draw breath, the best man nervously stands up, microphone clasped in a sweaty palm, to deliver a speech which is supposed to be the crowning glory of the toasts.

It’s only then you realise that one man’s Dutch courage is another’s alcohol poisoning.

The Wedding Ringer is a sweet-natured yet highly improbable buddy comedy of errors, which walks down the aisle with one hapless groom, who enlists professional help to ensure he gets the best best man.

Tax attorney Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is two weeks shy of marrying fiancee Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) at a lavish ceremony masterminded by flamboyant wedding planner Edmundo (Ignacio Serricchio).

As the son of an international tax attorney, who moved the family around the world, Doug never stayed in one place long enough to forge lasting friendships so he has no male companions to support him.

When Gretchen puts Doug on the spot about seating plans, he conjures up a fictitious best man called Bic Mitchum.

The lie weighs heavily on Doug and the loveable loser seeks help from Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), owner of The Best Man Inc. For 50,000 US dollars, Jimmy will adopt the identity of the elusive Bic and recruit seven bogus groomsmen to complement Gretchen’s gaggle of bridesmaids.

As the big day approaches, Jimmy goes into charm overdrive to fool Gretchen’s parents (Ken Howard, Mimi Rogers), sister (Olivia Thirlby) and grandmother (Cloris Leachman) and deliver Doug the wedding he deserves.

Written in broad strokes by director Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender, The Wedding Ringer raises one glass to male bonding and another to mawkish sentiment, sloshing contrivances in every direction.

The unlikely central pairing of Hart and Gad, who voiced Olaf the self-deluded snowman in Frozen, occasionally sparkles.

Hart dials down his manic showmanship a notch or two and Gad oozes natural likeability as a loner who can’t believe he has landed the girl of his dreams.

The script neatly jilts one garish stereotype at the altar but Garelick’s film is amicably divorced from reality and evidently lost custody of the three-dimensional characters.

For better or worse, The Wedding Ringer falls short of matrimonial bliss.