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License to Wed
License to Wed is a romantic comedy about marriage that doesn't quite live up to its vows. Directed by Ken Kwapis (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, various episode of The Office), the movie showed potential with its charismatic cast and silly premise. And while it does provide some mild fun and entertainment, it ultimately falls as flat as a tossed bouquet.
Ben (John Krasinski) and Sadie (Mandy Moore) are the loving young couple engaged to be married. Ben's the unassertive pushover and Sadie's the Type A control freak, but these differences in personality don't seem to bother them until it comes time to plan their wedding. Ben wants an intimate, island wedding, but Sadie has her heart set on getting married in her hometown church by her family Reverend. So, like the passive person he is, Ben agrees. But it's a decision he'll soon regret.
Reverend Frank (Robin Williams) enrolls them in his very own "marriage preparation course,"Â which turns out to be more like a "get stalked and tortured by your minister"Â kind of course. The eccentric Reverend Frank, accompanied by his mini-altar boy sidekick (the borderline annoying Josh Flitter), goes to great lengths to make sure Ben and Sadie are truly ready for matrimony. Needless to say, the obstacles he forces them to endure are preposterous. He makes them take care of creepy robotic babies, play word association with Sadie's uppity wealthy family, participate in a ridiculous blindfolded driving test, and he even bugs their apartment!
Though Reverend Frank's methods are questionable, he succeeds in making Ben and Sadie realize there are things in their relationship they must work on. They're in love, but they're not communicating. Reverend Frank gets their real feelings to come out.
The conflicts are foreseeable from the start and the ending is just as predictable, but there is a factor which makes this movie worth seeing and his name is John Krasinski. The instantly likeable actor is best known as the adorable paper salesman Jim Halpert on The Office and he makes his leading man debut with License to Wed. Though not given quality material to work with here (the License to Wed script lacks the spark and originality of The Office dialogue he's used to), Krasinski combines his flair for the comedic facial expression with his relatable everyman charm and proves he's got what it takes to be a star.
Some of his fellow Office-mates even pop up for some cameo appearances. Keep an eye out for Mindy Kaling (Kelly on The Office) as the wife of Ben's best friend, Brian Baumgartner (Kevin)
as a participant in Reverend Frank's counseling sessions, and Angela Kinsey
(Angela) as a jewelry saleswoman.
Unfortunately, Mandy Moore fails to make her character three-dimensional. Sadie is bland and flat and Moore's performance does nothing to garner the audience's sympathy or affection. I respect Mandy Moore; I think she's sweet, mature and down-to-earth. She succeeds in keeping her personal life out of the spotlight and seems content with her low-key status, and that is to be admired. But in terms of her acting, I know she can do better. She has the skills to do comedy, she proved that in Saved!. I just wish some of that spunk and liveliness was apparent in this film as well.
And lastly, Robin Williams, who is so over the top in many of the comedies he appears in, failed to generate the kind of laughs I was hoping for. In fact, I had hoped the movie itself would have provoked more chuckles then it did. Disappointingly, most of the humorous scenes were revealed in the promo commercials"”not a good sign.
If you feel yourself in a need of a break from all of the noisy, big-budget summer blockbusters, then you might want to say "I do"Â to License to Wed. It's a milder"”if not slightly mindless"”diversion. But if you want to see John Krasinski in something really funny, watching The Office may be your best bet.
Movie Grade: B-
License to Wed follows newly engaged Ben Murphy (John Krasinski) and his fiancée, Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore), who has always dreamed of getting married in a traditional wedding at her family church. The problem is St. Augustine’s only has one wedding slot available in the next two years, and its charismatic pastor, Reverend Frank (Robin Williams), won’t bless Ben and Sadie’s union until they pass his patented, foolproof marriage-prep course. Through outrageous classes, outlandish homework assignments and some pious manipulation, Ben and Sadie are about to find out if they really have what it takes to make it to the altar… and live happily ever after.