Judge Adam Arseneau now knows that the wrath of God comes in DVD format.
First came love…then came Reverend Frank.
Do you need a license to make a movie? If so, you probably should. It might have prevented the abomination that is License To Wed.
Facts of the Case
Ben Murphy (John Krasinski, The Office) has met the girl of his dreams, Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore, Saved!). She is smart, beautiful, feisty, and the perfect match for him. Before he knows it, he finds himself on one knee, popping the question. Delighted, she accepts his proposal, and they eagerly begin to plan their wedding.
Unfortunately for Ben, Sadie's family wants the wedding to be officiated by their family's spiritual leader, Reverend Frank (Robin Williams, a lot of better movies than this one). The Rev agrees to marry the couple, but only if they both submit to his crash-course wedding counseling, lasting three weeks—if the two make it out in one piece, he will marry them with his blessings. However, if they fail the course, he reserves the right to call the ceremony off. Both agree; Sadie happily, Ben reluctantly.
Unfortunately for the happy couple, Reverend Frank's idea of counseling involves putting both through a whirlwind of antagonism, spying, manipulation, and torturing. Will Ben be able to stomach the aggravation, or will he lose out on the girl of his dreams?
If you took Meet The Parents, surgically removed all vestiges of amusement and comedy with a rusty chainsaw, the mutilated carcass left behind would bear a striking resemblance to License To Wed, an awkward, horrific attempt at romantic comedy that only brings a smile to the face of its audiences when the credits run and the film blissfully ends.
You have to work really hard to make a comedy as rigorously unfunny as License To Wed, and, in a freaky sort of way, credit should be given to them for pulling it off. Dreadful from start to finish, License To Wed has not a single joke in the film that succeeds in amusing its audience. I am serious when I say this—not a single joke. I mean, that takes a special kind of dedication to morbidity, don't you think?
As for acting, forget about it. Mandy Moore's performance is disposable and hardly worth discussing in detail. She does an okay job for someone without much acting experience, but little more. As the groom-to-be, John Krasinski is the only cast member who almost salvages his performance, but far too much of it is recycled material from his affable performance on The Office, smirking goofy at the camera during inexplicably awkward comedic moments. His comedic timing and charm are ineffective against the onslaught of lousiness in this film. And Robin Williams…well, we've saved a special section just for him. Read on, gentle reader, if ye dare.
Clearly, the filmmakers involved in giving aborted birth to License To Wed envisioned a charming romantic comedy chronicling the pitfalls and perils of marriage, getting to know your spouse, and how hard true love can be. What little kindness I can generate in my cold, dead heart for this film grudgingly acknowledges such good intentions, however pedantic and predictable they might be. If you can't see exactly how this film ends within the first ten minutes, shame on you. The only other slightly positive quality comes in the way of numerous cameos from the cast of The Office, no doubt placed by the film's director, himself a director and producer for the aforementioned TV show. Too bad none of them are in it long enough to sway the film in the direction of comedy.
The best part in the film occurs very late in, satisfying but far too late to make any substantial difference on our opinion of the film. It involves Robin Williams getting punched in the face. It is surprisingly therapeutic. For sixty minutes prior, this is all you think about doing. That should say everything that needs to be said about License To Wed.
The film is presented in both full screen and anamorphic widescreen, selectable by the user at the start of the disc. Pan-and-scan may be a sin against God and man alike, but at least one has the choice, right? Visually, the presentation is decent at first glance with some pleasantly vibrant and saturated colors and moderate black levels, but the transfer shows tell-tale signs of some nasty digital compression and artifacts, muddling up skin tones quite horrifically. No doubt cramming both anamorphic and full-frame presentations on the same disc took its toll. We get the full gambit of language choices, with English, French, and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround presentations and subtitles. The rear channels go mostly unused here, with the majority of the dialogue stuck in the center channel and the environmental in the left and right. During more active sequences, like a basketball game, the rear channels jump in, but they should be more active.
Extras are slim. All we get are twelve minutes of additional scenes, with or without optional commentary by director Ken Kwapis (The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants) and an annoying little interactive feature called "Ask Choir Boy," which lets you view irritating sequences of Robin Williams' child page answering radio caller questions in a broadcast booth. Pass.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Okay, seriously: what the hell happened to Robin Williams?
He used to be funny. No, seriously, he did. You'd never know from watching License To Wed, but he honestly used to make people laugh. Here, Williams literally sleepwalks through his dialogue with a bored, glazed look in his eye, as if counting the filming days left before he can get his paycheck cashed. Oh, the tragic train wreck that has become Robin Williams' career as of late. The dude is so much better than this.
He can't possibly need the money. So why do this to yourself, Robin? Why do this to us? Man, you are so much better off sticking with films like One Hour Photo and The Final Cut than with crap like this.
Badly acted, poorly written, predictable, pedantic and painful to watch, License To Wed is the most mediocre-strength comedy that can be safely administered and consumed by the general public without a prescription. Anything stronger and you risk permanent brain damage.
If you are considering picking this film up as a rental, I offer you this proposal: give me your four dollars, and I will come to your house and kick you repeatedly in the genitals for ninety minutes. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement, because you will have simulated the experience of watching License To Wed, and, more importantly, I'll be four dollars richer.
Whoo hoo! Four dollars!
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