Kevin Hart's not just one of the best and most bankable of Hollywood's comedy stars. He's the rare go-for-broke movie comic to master the incompatible demands of movie comedy itself. He goes too far, works blue as hell, rants in that scraping, outraged shout of his, the syllables spat with a rapper's force and bounce. But then, when the professionally plotted studio features he stars in need us to feel good at the end, he can move and charm us, somehow without betraying the spirit of the dirty/funny/truth-spewing marvel we paid to see.
The movie itself's not masterful, but Hart's great, as is the premise. Hart plays Jimmy Callahan, whose cynical hustle makes the best possible use of the star's charisma: Jimmy rents himself out as a best man for grooms who can't find one, offering a glittering toast, a brilliant charm offensive, and -- this goes unstated in the film -- the chance for well-heeled white guys to be honored in public by the coolest of black BFFs.
Josh Gad stars as the friendless stiff, betrothed to a beautiful non-entity embodied by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting. Gad's wealthy schmoe starts as the sorriest case Callahan has ever seen: He needs not just a best man, but seven groomsmen. Cue up much amusing jabber about the rules of faking camaraderie, about the lies people tell in speeches at weddings, about how to change the subject when talking to family. Hart rattles on, part entrepreneur, part devilish huckster, part parody of Will Smith's magic Bagger Vance caddie. He's not teaching Gad's groom how to love or live or anything --touchingly, hilariously, the men slowly teach that to each other. Somehow, these actors sell it.
The Wedding Ringer is not showing in any theaters in the area.