Williams’ antics can’t save ‘License to Wed’ | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Williams’ antics can’t save ‘License to Wed’

Howie Nave
From left, Mandy Moore, Robin Williams and John Krasinski star in "License to Wed." (Peter Sorel / Warner Bros.)

Oh, dear. I was hoping “License to Wed” would be a good movie for Robin Williams.

He is still brilliant when it comes to things unrehearsed, yes, and in some movies those qualities shine. He was given plenty of leeway in “Good Morning Vietnam,” and shone.

Here he’s more forced and, while the message might be a good one considering our times, the delivery of that message is pretty lame.

Williams plays the Reverend Frank, who is fed-up with the soaring divorce rate in our society, so he insists on putting couples through the marriage equivalency of boot camp. It consists of tempting each other’s partners with lustful fantasies, all designed to see who trips up, and to see who is, in fact, the most devoted to one another.

Mandy Moore plays parishioner Sadie Jones, who wants her fiancé, Ben (John Krasinski), to be put to the test by Rev. Frank to see if he can endure the earthly temptations thrown at him. And, more importantly, so that Rev. Frank will marry them. If Ben doesn’t make it through his course, he won’t.

What follows is a barrage of juvenile set-ups, with plenty of innuendos and gags, which not only wears thin after a while, but makes the idea of remaining single the better choice. There are plenty of Viagra references, and M.C. Hammer will like some of the language borrowed from his delivery. Very retro, indeed.

Who wants to get wed by this guy, anyway — I mean, other than Sadie? For a supposed spiritual leader, one has to wonder why anyone would attend Rev. Frank’s church in the first place. With a trust-building program designed to strip the dignity of those involved, Rev. Frank’s torture test of faith better resembled an Erhard Seminar Training (est) course taught by Werner Erhard than the teachings of a clergyman.

Directed by relative newcomer Ken Kwapis (“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”), “License To Wed” would have been better off as part of some half-hour sitcom, and probably with some trimming could be pretty funny. After all, Kwapis has done plenty of work on the small screen, including “The Office” and “Malcolm in the Middle,” to at least give this a go on the Lifetime Movie Network.

Robin Williams has proved he can take on dramatic roles in movies such as “Insomnia,” “One Hour Photo” and “Good Will Hunting” (in which he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar), but maybe with the combination of a newbie director and last year’s bomb, “RV,” he should stick with the animated voices or the funny stuff.

For those planning to see this movie before they get married, perhaps eloping would be a better option.

— Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada, including the Sirius Radio Network every Sunday evening. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio and you can see his film reviews every Friday morning on KOLO ABC TV Channel 8.

Keepin’ it reel:

Now Playing: “License to Wed”

Starring: Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, John Krasinski, Eric Christian Olsen, Christine Taylor, Josh Flitter, DeRay Davis, Peter Strauss, Grace Zabriskie, Roxanne Hart and Mindy Kaling

Directed by: Ken Kwapis

Rated: PG-13 for sexual humor and language

Running time: 90 minutes

Howie gives it: 1.5 out of 5 bagels

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