'License To Wed'
(Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, John Krasinski, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2007 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Newly engaged, Ben Murphy (John Krasinski) and Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore) can't wait to start their life together and live happily ever after. The problem is that Sadie's family church, St. Augustine's, is run by Reverend Frank (Robin Williams), who won't bless Ben and Sadie's union until they pass his patented, "foolproof" marriage-prep course. Consisting of outrageous classes, outlandish homework assignments and some outright invasion of privacy, Reverend Frank's rigorous curriculum puts Ben and Sadie's relationship to the test. Forget happily ever after--do they even have what it takes to make it to the altar?
DVD Verdict: "License to Wed" might as well have been called "Meet the Minister," since all the film does is to recycle the nightmare-before-marriage scenario from "Meet the Parents" - albeit with one crucial deviation. Needless to say, lightning rarely strikes twice when it comes to Hollywood happenings and "License to Wed" is no "Meet the Parents." Not by a long shot.
Ben Murphy and Sadie Jones are a young Chicago couple who agree to undergo an intense pre-marital "training course" conducted by an obnoxious local reverend in exchange for being allowed to hold their nuptials at the church Sadie's dearly departed grandfather helped to build. To pass the course, the couple must agree to be abstinent until the wedding night, take care of two fully operational and anatomically correct mechanical infants, and undergo various forms of trauma that even Sigmund Freud himself would have trouble undoing after years of reparative analysis.
As a "Meet the Parents" wannabe, "License to Wed" stumbles right out of the starting gate in that one can imagine suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous humiliation and abuse in order to win the favor of a prospective spouse's PARENTS, but to go through all that just to placate her MINISTER? I don't think so. In no time flat, the laughter turns to frustration as we find ourselves wondering why Ben doesn't just tell the dear old Reverend to go take a hike - or worse - and then seek out some religious establishment with less stringent requirements for walking down the aisle.
And let's face it, there's something more than a trifle off-putting and creepy about an unwed man-of-the-cloth running around with a young boy as his personal protégé and sidekick, planting listening devices in young couple's bedrooms. Even for an alleged comic fantasy such as this one, that may be just a bridge farther than most people will be willing to go in the queasiness department.
John Krasinski and Mandy Moore make an appealing enough couple, and it isn't really their fault that they've been handed a screenplay - written by no fewer than three writers, a sure sign of trouble - filled with cornball humor, heavy-handed slapstick and unappetizing secondary characters. In the role of Reverend Frank, Robin Williams, all cutesy mannerisms and third-rate mugging, hits a new low in teeth-grinding unctuousness, although one likes to believe that, if director Ken Kwapis could have gotten the actor to dial back his performance even a little, this might have been at least a tolerable movie. As it is, though, "License to Wed" is a painful experience that you will have no trouble leaving stranded at the altar. This is a Widesreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Additional Scenes with Optional Director Commentary
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