Appropriate review for a dreadful sounding movie

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.


11 Responses

  1. Did you or your husband ever watch Serenity though?

  2. Ratatouille is excellent. I won’t spoil it by giving away any details, but I will say that — like most Pixar films — it manages to be surprising. The plot does not ride the rails of a standard formula. And yet everything makes perfect internal sense.

    It’s also (again, like most Pixar films) surprisingly conservative at the core. Shh! Don’t tell!

  3. Serenity was yummy goodness, y. When I saw the previews of License to Wed, the first word that entered my mind was ICK, and then I pondered for a moment the fact that Whorywood is truly out of touch with what we in the red parts of America believe in our churches.

  4. Can’s say as I have, Y. Is it good?

  5. By the way, Trimegistus, since I know a lot of the Pixar people, I’m not surprised. They’re unthinking liberals, who have essentially conservative values in their own lives.

  6. Of course it is good, Book. Even I couldn’t find anything bad with it!

    If you haven’t had a chance to buy the Firefly DVDs, then this is your chance to get the entire family hooked on some of the best quality products out of the movie business; notice I didn’t say Hollywood.

    It is a very mature movie, but not because of any sexual issues. It is mature because it sees people like you see people, Book. For who they are, not just the outside appearance or the societal prejudices. The political system is very thought provoking, Book, and it should suit you given your political interests. The Belly of the Beast, so to speak.

    It is also a good introduction to science fiction, which often times tests the limits of human potential and individual strength. That might also appeal to you, Book, given your previous posts concerning growth and maturity.

    The Firefly Tv series Season 1 did a great job developing each of their characters, the movie did a very good stand alone job without relying upon the series to provide background info. In point of fact, you’ll actually get more surprises without the series.

    Serenity came out soon after I was talking about true belief, fanaticism, and so forth over at Neo-neocon’s site. An interesting coincidence, due to the fact that Serenity actually tackles this issue in a way that makes quite a bit of sense. Belief is a powerful weapon and human motivation factor, Book, and Serenity explores many aspects of it. It has one of the best developed villains, around, and classical liberals like it precisely because it tells the story of an underdog for human progress. Students of human history will see varied social conditions and motivation vriables, which due to their complexity only really interests students of history. So that aspect is a bit toned down in the movie.

  7. I got teary eyed at the end of the movie. I got attached to the characters so to speak, given that I respect them and I find their quirks extremely funny.

    A lot of people say they get emotional over the end of the movies, but I only get emotional over people doing things that I feel pride and respect over. Not exactly tears of joy nor are they tears of sadness, but somewhere in between.

    I’ve dampened down the emotions quite a bit, given that they would go out of control and I didn’t like that. Normal sadness and atrocities like what Michael Yon posted about, no longer affect me as they did before. I find it a curious desensitization process; a building up of control. It is not tolerance because I tolerate evil no more than I did 5 years ago. Maybe even less now. My beliefs have not changed concerning the protection of humanity nor its progress towards a better world, but the emotional reaction no longer controls my thinking any longer. For heroic action however, whether read by me or seen by me, it just sort of feels mean spirited and unfair to not feel much emotion over such. Such action and such people deserve affect, including the giving of tears in public. It is a worthy thing to shed tears over.

    This reminds me of that funny blog post by someone else talking about when is it okay for men to cry. *in public*

    I used google to find the post, because there aren’t many webpages with my name in the search bot list.

    You can see my comment on the subject there.

    In most movies I’ve seen, only 1 which I saw in a theater, the material doesn’t get me to thinking much, Book. I find that a little bit peculiar. Serenity actually got me thinking throughout the movie, in fact I had to watch it a second or third time just to catch all the little dialogues quirks and undertones hidden inside people’s gestures and words. I like that. A movie that isn’t so simple to figure out is a challenge and I like things like that.

    One thing I will say, you won’t have any Reverend-Pastors doing creepy things in Serenity, Book. To be honest, I found some of Serenity’s scripted sequences a little bit… artificial. But then again, I’m the kind of person that analyzes people, motivations, and plot lines to try and predict the end and I also analyze how well advertisement does when I see them on tv, Book, so it is not really a criticism. It is just an observation that for most people, they won’t see anything wrong or inconsistent, but my standards are a little bit weird.

  8. I can’t imagine why the movie previews of License to Wed that I’ve seen would cause ANYONE to see the movie.

  9. I also liked Aeon Flux. It suffers from some of the normal movie problems such as lack of plot descriptions or consistency, but the first 90% of the movie was great and very consistent with the mysterious theme.

    It’s a science fiction look into a futuristic utopian city, Book, where everyone leads happy lives. However, not all is perfect, for there is a dark beast and a secret hidden beneath the smiles and tears of joy. Can our protagonist escape from the belly of such a beast?

  10. Saw Ratatouille last night ($6.00 each for seniors) and it was wonderful. You’ll enjoy it and so will your whole family.

    Also recommend both Serenity and the Firefly programs. They’re GREAT! as Tony would say…..great stories, good moral tales and exciting as all get-out!

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