License to Wed (PG-13)
Starring: Robin Williams
“License and Rolaids Please”
To prove their compatibility as marriage partners, a young couple must endure the intensive, invasive and unorthodox marriage counseling methods of a radical minister.
Sadie (Mandy Moore) insists on being married in the church her grandfather built, much to her fiancé, Ben’s (John Krasinski), persistent protestations. However, Reverend Frank’s (Robin Williams) calendar is so packed that he can only marry Sadie and Ben in three weeks…or sometime next year. Opting for the quicker course, Sadie and Ben are subjected to Rev. Frank’s extreme marriage prerequisite course which includes a variety of bizarre exercises. Rev. Frank’s lesson in communication sees Sadie driving blindfolded while Ben gives directions from the back seat. Rev. Frank bugs Sadie and Ben’s apartments to safeguard the couple against consummating their relationship before the honeymoon. Ben must contend with creepy robot baby twins which secrete all manner of fluids at random times in order to prepare him for fatherhood. These challenges drive Sadie and Ben further apart, which is, of course, all part of Rev. Frank’s plan. The couple breaks up, but will true love bring them back together in time to take the final exam?
The film’s most obvious deficit is the anemic script. The premise is flimsy and the story isn’t substantial enough to hold up under its own preposterous notions. Ken Kwapis’ TV sitcom sensibilities shackle the story and William’s stale shtick kills any chance the movie has of being a charming, lighthearted look at prenuptial stress and strife. The Seed of Chucky demon-babies are downright disturbing as is Frank’s consistently deplorable behavior (just how many of Williams’ recent performances have involved eavesdropping, spying, voyeurism, etc.?)
With unmistakable shades of Meet the Parents, License to Wed is a mindless rom-com that had the opportunity to explore the complexity of relationships in a mature and respectable manner, but settled for the cheap laugh instead. The formidable line-up of stars, along with solid assists from veterans like Peter Strauss and Wanda Sykes still couldn’t right the severely listing ship. Williams is regrettably hackneyed and is becoming more irrelevant with each successive role. Mandy Moore, bless her heart, has had terrible luck with her comedies at the box office this year. Better luck next year!
Rating: 1 1/2