License to Wed
Rated PG-13; Directed by Ken Kwapis; Starring Robin Williams, John Krasinski, Mandy Moore, Josh Flitter
Some ideas for movies start out strong but end up mangled. Some ideas for movies start out weak but end up better than expected. Then there are films like License to Wed, which starts out weak and ends up even weaker. An interfering reverend tries to help two newlyweds-to-be by picking on them, spying on them, and just making them miserable? I don’t get it. Obviously, my talents as a film studio executive are lacking. I wouldn’t have greenlighted this mess of a film.
Ben (John Krasinski) and Sadie (Mandy Moore) fall in love, move in together, and get engaged within ten minutes of the start of the movie. It’s the engagement that sets off the unfortunate circumstances of the film – to get married in the church where Sadie has always wanted her wedding, Ben and Sadie must attend special marriage classes put on by Reverend Frank (Robin Williams). What he puts the two through makes the goal of marriage as hard as climbing Mt. Everest. He puts them through a lot. Some of it is very creepy stuff. Even creepier is the child assistant to Reverend Frank played by Josh Flitter. Shouldn’t his parents worry about all the time spent with the reverend?
So, you have a reverend who does creepy things. Casting Robin Williams didn’t make it less creepier. It would help if the two young lovers, Ben and Sadie, offered more personality, but they both end up as unlikable, young twits. At one point I hoped the movie was going to show us why these two people weren’t right for each other.
Some scenes manage to provide laughs so it isn’t a total loss, but how can a movie manage to take Robin Williams and tamp down his ability to get laughs? This movie manages it. The script, with director Ken Kwapis’ help, sets up the jokes, allows us to see the punchlines a mile away, and then delivers those punchlines with little finesse. Maybe stronger performances might have helped, but they’re bland all around.
Someone – some studio executive– thought the idea behind this movie might make a successful film. He or she managed to drag Robin Williams into it. Then they put together the blandest set of cast and characters. Couldn’t anyone think about it a little harder? See? Me a studio executive? I’d fail miserably. I thought the idea terrible to begin with.