License to Wed
One of the great things
about the NBC series The Office is that it always subverts its craft.
It never feels like just another situation comedy. The rhythms are
different, as are the characterizations and they never just throw out jokes
– all humor is dependent on the individual and plots.
That makes it doubly
disappointing that License to Wed – which was directed by Ken Kwapis,
who has helmed many episodes of the series, has the male lead played by one
of the breakout actors from the series and has several supporting and cameo
roles by the show's co-stars – could feel so much like a long,
As you can tell by the
awkward title (everybody knows the actual term is "Marriage License"
the tortured attempt to suggest a James Bond title with the name?), this is
another one of the supposed feel-good wedding comedies that Hollywood has
been foisting on us for about a decade. There have been dozens – ever
since the studios realized that you just have to mention marriage in a title
to get a good female response. However, while some of the early ones
were actually good (Four Weddings and a Funeral, My Best Friend's
Wedding, The Wedding Singer...), most of these have been crap.
License continues the chain.
License to Wed is
the story of Ben (John Krasinski) and Sadie (Mandy Moore), a young couple
with old names who meet cute (and totally unconvincingly), fall in love way
too fast (again, completely unconvincing) and decide to get married.
Of course in these movies
true love is never allowed to run smooth, so they have to run across a
complication – in this case it is in the form of Father Frank (Robin
Frank is supposed to be a
hip preacher who is beloved by his congregation. We are supposed to
know this because he shares parishioners' embarrassing secrets from the
pulpit and teaches the kids the Ten Commandments complete with a mini set of
Family Feud (yeah, that happens...).
When Sadie insists on
getting married at her childhood church, they have to pass Father Frank's
wedding course before he will perform the ceremony. Father Frank
constantly makes inappropriate remarks (mostly sexual), pries, snoops, tries
to start fights (in the name of communication) and even bugs the couple's
Father Frank keeps
insisting that marriage is a constant challenge and you have to be ready for
everything it throws at you. However, that doesn't change the fact
that most of what he does feels a little creepy and sick – and again, not
the least bit realistic.
Father Frank is just the
latest in a disappointingly long line of Williams' performances which point
out the manic energy of the star has gotten rather old and stale. Of
course, if he seems even more wired than usual, remember that this was the
film Williams was making last year when he had to commit himself into rehab.
In the roles of the couple,
Moore and Krasinski only do slightly better. Moore once again shows
herself to be a charming and sweet presence onscreen – though she is really
going to have to be more careful about the scripts if she ever wants to be a
real film star.
everyday-guy manner – which is why he works so well in the ensemble of
The Office – unfortunately works to his detriment as a lead character.
He fades into the background way too much and the audience can't quite warm
up to him. Even when he gets angry or passionate it seems polite and
restrained. If he really wants to make the leap to movies, he will
have to expand his palette.
Then again, like Moore, if
he really wants to make it into the movies, he'll have to find better
vehicles than this.
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July 9, 2007.