A Comedy Fiasco
Sometimes being a film critic can be hazardous to your health. Having to review License To Wed is one of those times. My head aches simply thinking about this comedy fiasco -- and I’ve already taken two doses of a strong pain medication before sitting down to work on the review -- but here goes. I’ll start by mentioning that comic genius Robin Williams plays a voyeuristic reverend who runs a program for couples about to be married, but the unreasonable assignments this man of the cloth gives his clients are absolutely ridiculous, not to mention criminal.
Pity poor Ben (John Krasinski) and Sadie (Mandy Moore). If they don’t complete Reverend Frank’s (Williams) program successfully, he won’t marry them in St. Augustine’s, the church of their choice -- well, of Sadie’s choice, but Ben feels compelled to go along with her. They look like perfectly normal people, but I don’t think anyone who’s sane would put up with Reverend Frank’s shenanigans. He makes Sadie drive while blindfolded to learn to trust Ben; he exposes the couple to humiliation in a group session designed to teach them how to fight; he demands they abstain from sex until the honeymoon (although they’re already living together); he gives them two obnoxious mechanical babies to take care of; and he puts Ben through a demeaning word association game with his future in-laws. All this is supposed to make sure Sadie and Ben will live happily ever after. Puh-leez.
But the worst part of License To Wed involves Reverend Frank and his assistant, a precocious young boy played by Josh Flitter (so wonderful in The Greatest Game Ever Played). Reverend Frank has the boy sneak into Ben and Sadie’s apartment and bug it. Then the two of them listen in on the engaged couple’s private conversations! Only in some kind of bizarro world would this be considered funny.
Krasinski, an actor I’ve admired as Jim Halpert in TV’s The Office, deserves better material for his first “leading man” movie role. He’s a very photogenic and appealing performer. However, he’s not cut out for slapstick and the preposterous situations depicted here. Still, Krasinski projects a tender chemistry with Mandy Moore at the beginning of the film. Too bad it falls apart sooner than you can spot Paris Hilton in magazines at today’s newsstands. Moore isn’t given much of a chance to shine either, but she’s a lot more likeable in this film than in Because I Said So.
I can’t believe Ken Kwapis directed License To Wed. He demonstrated such sensitivity and understanding of the human condition with his work on The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. However, as so often is the case, the movie’s major problem arises from a screenplay misfire. I wonder why the absurd script was given a greenlight? On a positive note, screenwriters Kim Barker and Tim Rasmussen are relatively new at the game, so they will undoubtedly improve.
Bummer! My head hurts even more now than when I began this review. Time for additional medication -- but please, movie fans, consider yourself warned about License To Wed.
(Released by Warner Bros. Pictures and rated “PG-13” for sexual humor and language.)