License to Wed

| July 5, 2007

Would you pull a wedding together in 3½ weeks just so you could walk through the doors of a church that your grandfather installed? That is the big question that must be answered if you want to buy into the premise of License to Wed.
At the party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his girlfriend’s parents, Ben Murphy (John Krasinski) gets up the courage to ask Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore) to marry him. He says he pictures a tropical setting for the wedding, but as will be the case throughout his life, his wife-to-be overrules him. It is decided that the wedding will happen at the family church, but the only opening in the next 24 months is 3½ weeks from now. And… If they want to get married there, they have to pass Reverend Frank’s (Robin Williams) three-month long marriage preparation class in just 24 days. Oh no. What ever will they do?
There are a few rules to this class, the most important are:

  1. You write your own vows
  2. you go through his classes and
  3. you can not have sex until the honeymoon.

The third one seems to be too difficult for this couple to deal with, and it is here that I began to question whether I had made a good decision to review this one, and therefore, have to sit through the entire thing. I could see if they had to do it for the full three-month course. Or if they were getting married after that 90-day period. But 3½ weeks? Goodness, many couples do that just to make the honeymoon special. This embargo on Sadie’s panties makes Ben question the usefulness of the course and is the source of most of the angst driving his desire to ambush it. Granted, I have never gotten to see Mandy Moore naked, but come on, any guy who is not mature enough to participate in some pre-wedding counseling is bound to have some other problems down the road.
I would have been more freaked out about pulling the rest of the wedding together in that short a period of time, but we get none of that angst. The dress appears to already exist, the caterer seems to have a convenient gap in his schedule and it appears that everyone they want at the wedding is in town.
Ken Kwapis has directed a lot of television and it shows here–the desire for a quick wrap-up of the premise to move on to the next 22-minute episode was obvious. He has taken a poor script by rookie Kim Barker and Tim Rasmussen (El Elegante, four years ago) and hasn’t done anything to improve it. There is the Reverend Frank’s group exercise episode, Ben Discovers the Hidden Microphone episode, and Ben Discovers Frank’s Hidden Secret episode all packed into one 90 minute movie. There are many laughs, but there are just as many grimaces and glances at my watch. To get an idea of some of the problems in the script you will have to read the spoiler section below. If you are leaving this review now, do it to go see the currently playing Ratatouille. That would be a far better spending of your time and money.
First: Ben has been trying to find some chink in the Reverend’s armor in order to prove to Sadie that they do not need this course. Even the day before the wedding, he is still trying to fight the system. He breaks into Frank’s house to find some dirt. Damn, it is the day before the wedding and you are still fighting it? What a moron. Ben, you’re going to have sex with her tomorrow. What is the big deal?
Second: Reverend Frank’s course is designed to make couples examine their faults and then build them back up. Predictably, Ben and Sadie break up from the strain. Sadie decides to use the honeymoon ticket anyway and goes to Jamaica. And her entire family, including grandma plus family friends, go with her.
Third: Ben follows her to Jamaica. Really? She just broke up with you. She left, and you cashed in your ticket (probably had to add a bunch to it) and caught a flight the next day.
Fourth: The relationships in this film are muddled. Who is this metrosexual Carlisle, and why is he always at family functions?
Fifth: After the couple, predictably, get back together, how did they get all those other wedding guests down there that quickly? Not in a matter of days–in a matter of hours.
Sixth: At the wedding on the beach in Jamaica, Sadie walks through the doors from the Church. How did they get the doors to Jamaica? There was just some carpenter waiting around to remove them and have them delivered via FedEx Next-Hour Service to Jamaica?
Seventh: This reverend goes so far as to bug their apartment to hear what they are going through. I am seeing a lawsuit of major proportions.
Eighth: There is a “sight gag” where the wedding ring which is supposed to say Never to Part, comes out exchanging an F for the P in Part. And what jeweler would not see what they thought was an F and not ask the client if he meant to write it as a body excrement?
Ninth: What religion is Robin Williams’ character? He looks like a Catholic priest, but everyone calls him ‘Reverend,’ which means he can’t be Catholic. What other religion wears clerical clothes (the black with the white collar in the middle)? On Leno he says he is Protestant, but it questionable in the script. And on the show, he makes fun of Catholic priests… [Both Protestants and Episcopalian ministers can have similar dress to Catholic priests. — Ed.]
Tenth: Reverend Frank has a way too devoted Choir Boy (Josh Flitter from Nancy Drew) who is a bit too involved in Frank’s affairs–including doing a breaking and entering habit. I am not saying anything here… But it made me bit uncomfortable.
Like the entire movie.

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