Although I tend to denigrate the New York Times‘ news coverage on the grounds that the Times has a distinct bias that it refuses to admit, I still like the movie reviews, which are well written and, when not dealing with ideologically hot movies, fairly reliable. I therefore took a few minutes to read A.O. Scott’s review of License to Wed, the latest Robin Williams movie, and I’m glad I did. Not only does it sound right on the money, given the movie previews I’ve been unlucky enough to see, but it’s funny on its own terms (and clearly a lot funnier than the movie itself). Here are a couple of samples:
In “License to Wed,” Ben and Sadie, a perfectly nice-seeming, personality-free couple (John Krasinski and Mandy Moore), meet at a Starbucks, fall in love and decide to marry. I’m sure you’re as happy for them as I am. But wait. An obstacle lies between them and wedded bliss in the unctuous, smiling person of Robin Williams, who plays a minister with definite ideas about what it takes to make a marriage work.
What it takes is for Reverend Frank, as he is known, to harass, browbeat and humiliate the intendeds (Ben in particular) for three weeks, until they are ready to call it quits. Only if they can survive his brutal training course in matrimony — which starts with a bloody nose for the would-be groom and includes a hidden microphone in the bedroom and twin robot babies programmed to throw tantrums and soil diapers — will poor Sadie and Ben have what it takes to persevere till death do they part.
As for myself, I will confess that the only thing that kept me watching “License to Wed” until the end (apart from being paid to do so) was the faith, perhaps misplaced, that I will not see a worse movie this year. Come to think of it, the picture might be useful in certain circumstances, much in the way that Reverend Frank’s training program is supposed to be. If the beloved with whom you see “License to Wed” can’t stop talking about how great it was, you might want to cancel the nuptials. Or, if it’s too late for that, call a lawyer.
Here is a clergyman (Frank’s high-churchy denomination is not specified, maybe for fear of protests) whose only companion, day and night, seems to be a prepubescent boy. (“Reverend Frank is everywhere,” the youngster marvels. Ick.) The good pastor seems a bit too eager to ask “our little Stacy” what she likes to do in bed. He also launches into a mini-tirade at one point about Sadie’s supposed “liberal college” and “bisexual roommate.” Surely this film is a scabrous, cynical satire of religious authority run amok.
I guess I’ll just save my movie going dollars for Ratatouille, a movie that seems to be a gem from beginning to end.
Filed under: Hollywood