License to Wed

Year: 2007
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Ken Kwapis
Cast: Robin Williams, Mandy Moore
There's nothing sadder than a Hollywood giant who's proven himself to successive generations of fans and fickle studio executives who then coasts along in a studio packaged romantic comedy with even their unique comic personality toned right down in the face of a family-friendly rating and asinine script.

Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson were from opposite ends of the acting style spectrum but when they came together for Anger Management they confounded expectations, their respective personas breaking the banks of the rom-com genre and making it into their own, even giving the film a smart twist that closed it off nicely.

You hope for at least one of the above qualities in License to Wed, but the filmmaking-by-committee result is a tepid, barely-funny exercise that probably wouldn't even have been made without Williams' involvement, so it's ironic his role as Reverend Frank could have been filled by any TV-grade comic from the past half century.

He plays a progressive catholic priest who specialises in intensive training of couples to road test their worthiness to be together prior to the big day. Cue a lot of unfunny, seen-them-a-million-times gags of violated privacy and humiliation as newlyweds-to-be Sadie (Moore) and Ben suffer the indignities of being told they're not to sleep together until the wedding, they have to play-act imagined fights and more. Worse still, Sadie thinks it's all a great idea while the hapless Ben not only doesn't forbid the whole operation and deck the offending cleric but goes along with it all.

Reverend Frank isn't the idiot you expect from such a set-up, and with his sidekick - a kid who looks like a lactose intolerant Damien Thorne, you expect their kooky program to actually be a very smart way of rooting out a problem Sadie and Ben don't even know they have.

If it had been, it might have saved the movie as well as the marriage. Instead the two let the whole thing get inexplicably under their skin and the same old boring romantic movie crisis and resolution ensues.

For a long time Moore seemed like she was going to be a pop princess in the movies forever, but she deserves a little credit for taking on the role of a real person.

But Williams is the biggest disappointment. At his most switched on, he'd be like a whirlwind through a glass factory in a bland comedy like this. They must have caught him when he had the flu, or maybe he's just getting older and figures he doesn't need to prove anything any more and can laugh all the way to the bank by phoning in his performance and taking the studio's cheque. Either way, there's nothing to see here.

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