DVD Release Date:  October 30, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: July 3, 2007
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual humor, language)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Run Time: 90 min.
Directors: Ken Kwapis
Actors: Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, John Krasinski, Josh Flitter, Christine Taylor, DeRay Davis, Peter Strauss, Mindy Kaling, Angela Kinsey, Brian Baumgartner

Much like last summer’s The Break-Up, the team behind License to Wed is trying to deconstruct the familiar romantic comedy formula by injecting an espresso shot of realism into the mix. Instead of sticking with the typical swoon-worthy ideals that “love conquers all” and “the good guy always gets the girl in the end,” they attempt to teach the age-old message that relationships are hard and require a concerted effort from both parties to succeed.

And while that’s certainly important to emphasize, especially considering the current divorce rate, License to Wed's script does a poor job of communicating that message. Not only is it seriously unfunny (which is ironic, considering it’s billed as a comedy), but the supposedly teachable moments that Reverend Frank (Robin Williams) forces the soon-to-be-married couple to endure are so ridiculous that it’s difficult to believe that Ben (John Krasinski from NBC’s The Office) and Sadie (Mandy Moore) would’ve agreed to them in the first place.

Like most couples in romantic comedies, Ben and Sadie meet cute (this time, in line at Starbucks), and in about ten minutes, they’ve kissed, said I love you and moved in together. Then six months later, Ben pops the question, and that’s when the real fun (or in this case, misery) begins as Sadie wants Reverend Frank to marry them, even though Frank can’t remember the last time Sadie was actually in church.

That small detail aside, however, Frank agrees to perform the ceremony—with one caveat: They must successfully pass his marriage course. Now if you’ve seen the trailer countless times like I had, you probably already know this involves Sadie driving in suburban Chicago traffic with a blindfold on and parenting lessons courtesy of two ugly robotic babies that scream and defecate as the couple registers for dishes.

But even more disturbing than the aforementioned is Reverend Frank himself. Not only does this unmarried pastor seem to have an obsession with all things sexual, but he and his annoying pint-sized sidekick (Josh Flitter), who he’s mentoring, put a bug in Ben and Sadie’s bedroom so they can eavesdrop and later, unwisely encourage Ben to pick a fight with his future in-laws.

As you can imagine, License to Wed only gets more ridiculous as the minutes tick by, leaving you wonder why a film so bad would ever be green-lighted in the first place. While it definitely disappoints in terms of pure entertainment value, it’s also a horrible endorsement for marriage and ministers alike as neither are portrayed in a flattering light.

While Krasinski shows promise as a lead with that sincere, everyman quality, Moore, who has proven to be a capable actress in the past, doesn’t have much to work with—aside from having to look pretty in her designer wardrobe. That’s a shame, given the chemistry that Krasinski and Moore displayed in a couple of scenes. But even more distressing is how silly relationship movies have become. Ultimately, there’s a good message mixed in with the hi-jinks in License to Wed, but it’s like the biblical reference of putting a jewel in a pig’s snout. It’s just not worth your time.

AUDIENCE: Older teens and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Alcohol is consumed in bars, with dinner and at the wedding by many of the characters.
  • Language/Profanity: There’s plenty of the usual expletives, including a few where the Lord’s name is taken in vain.
  • Sex/Nudity: Ben and Sadie live together, and it’s implied that they’re having sex, although because of Reverend Frank’s rules, they must wait until their wedding night to continue doing so. And while there’s no sex explicitly shown, there’s plenty of talk about it (no to mention crude innuendos from Reverend Frank himself) during the course of the film.
  • Violence: Just of the comedic variety.