Warning! This site contains satire, cynical adult humor, celebrity gossip, and an occasional peanut by-product or two!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

License to Wed

Can I be frank? Well, actually Robin Williams is Frank in the new movie License to Wed now at the Essex Cinemas and that’s what I want to talk to you about. It’s never easy writing something you know the other person may not want to read, but here goes: He’s funny again. Finally. I know you won’t believe me, and it is evident by the fact that I was the only one in the theater to see the first showing of the film that a lot of people are over Williams and his constant Tourette’s-like shtick and his grim and brooding serious roles, but this is different. Really. Try him; you’ll like him. He is funny again. “Mork and Mindy” funny even.

I’ll admit I can understand people’s reluctance to buy the idea of Robin Williams playing a priest, but this is a comedy, and a very broad one at that. Think of Wedding Crashers or There’s Something About Mary and you’ll get the idea. He’s not a normal priest, for God’s sake. He’s a bit overzealous in his duties, which seem to focus on Christian education.

When the story begins we are introduced to Ken and Barbie, er, I mean Sadie (Mandy Moore; American Dreamz) and Ben (John Krasinski: “Jim” on the tv hit “The Office”), who are without a doubt the most perfectly perfect white, upper-middle-class, privileged, made-for-each-other couple in the world. Sadie has her own floral shop and Ben is a school coach, both healthy, clean-cut kind of jobs. I was already wondering if she came with a Barbie Camper set, only full-sized. They look like poster children for a Sears ad, and I immediately wanted to adopt them and yet I was repelled by them at the same time. I think my diabetes was kicking in from all that sweetness.

Shortly after Ben proposes, Sadie insists that her dream wedding has to be in her parents home and with the same priest who baptized her as the officiate. No problem so far, thinks Ben. And then he meets Reverend Frank (Yep, Robin Williams; Night at the Museum).

Frank is in the midst of teaching a catechism class using a “Family Feud” theme as the grade school-aged kids recall the Ten Commandments in an entertaining if sometimes prurient fashion. That should have been a tip-off of things to come; either that or the appearance of a never-named Choir Boy (Josh Flitter; Nancy Drew) who is a creepy little sidekick/slave to the big man himself. The Choir Boy is quick to ride herd on the couple and keep them in line while getting them to their appointment with the Reverend. He also makes for a great B&E* guy later.

From this point on the movie turns into a travesty of terror for poor Ben. No matter what he says or does, Father Frank will find a way to twist it around and turn it into a negative statement or deed
done to besmirch Ben’s feelings for Sadie. Her job is simply to follow the Reverend’s guidance in his three week course on premarital counseling as is Ben’s, but, for him, the job is sabotaged from the first day. What can he do? If he says no to what is asked of him then Frank won’t marry them, and if he doesn’t succeed at the tasks set forth Frank won’t perform the service, so he really has no choice but to remain quiet and try to do his best for Sadie’s sake since it means so much to her.

What it means to Ben is a moratorium on sex, a forced life of complete honesty to the point of insulting Sadie’s family, unexpected late night visits from Frank and the troll Choir Boy, and a lot of wacky classes led by Father Frank himself and including other nervous couples planning to tie the knot.

The funniest segment of the movie though has little to do with Williams and everything to do with modern machinery. Frank issues the couple twin robotic dolls to care for overnight and the problems that ensue are quite funny. Think of blue applesauce and you may come close to imagining one of the major catastrophes to unfold.

Look for an unbilled cameo appearance by Wanda Sykes (Over The Hedge) as a hospital nurse
with a few choice words to say about childbirth. She’s only onscreen for a minute or so, but any time she shows up you know laughs are on the way.

It was enjoyable seeing Williams back in stride again after several missteps over the past several years. Nobody tells a bad joke better than he does because he will take the rap for it immediately with his puppy dog expression, letting you know right away that what he just said was a stinker. Fortunately, there aren’t many intentional stinkers in
License to Wed.

Mandy Moore holds her own, though she isn’t asked to do much. Neither are old pros like Peter Strauss (
xXx: State of the Union) as her father, Roxanne Hart (Letters from Iwo Jima) as her mother and Grace Zabriskie (tv’s “Big Love”) as the scene stealing Grandmother. The real surprise here is John Krasinski, who gives a great performance, managing to juggle both the love story and the crazy Animal House comedy going on simultaneously without missing a beat or letting one influence his acting choices from scene to scene. I can’t help but think that if they ever make a REAL big screen adaptation of tv favorite “Bewitched” (and not that god-awful knock-off that Nora Ephron wrote a few years back); Krasinski would make the perfect Darrin Stephens. He’s handsome, poised, and yet we now know he can handle lots of stress. Well done.

I hope people find
License to Wed and give it a look. It isn’t a summer blockbuster for sure, but it is a light and silly escape for folks looking for a few laughs between the big-ass explosions of Transformers and the powerhouse magic of next week’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

*B&E Breaking and Entering. The little Bugger!

No comments: