License to Wed. Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, and John Krasinski star in a film written by Kim Barker, Tim Rasmussen, and Vince Di Meglio and directed by Ken Kwapis.
Excuse me, but aren’t comedies supposed to be funny? This one is not, though it has the right formal ideas. License to Wed is fashioned on the classical model, wherein lovers meet, run up against a forbidding social difference-Sadie (Mandy Moore) is a Muffie socialite kid, Ben (John Krasinski) is a cipher-unmask a hypocrite, and it all ends in (look out for the spoiler, kids) an unlikely blissful wedding. Shakespeare would have signed off on the pitch.
But he also would’ve been appalled at how the filmmakers junked up the works. First problem: Robin Williams. If you look back to his big debut on Mork & Mindy, it becomes obvious Williams is a far better supporting actor than focal point. Except for Dead Poets Society, he tends to overplay-or under-think-his big parts. In this film, he exhibits all the nervous comic tics that used to ignite, but here seem irrelevant since he’s playing a preachy, no-sex-before-marriage, touchy-feely psychobabbler. You quickly grow to hate him. Williams doesn’t have the instincts of a dark-edged comic foil. The only really fun part of the film is when hubbie-to-be Ben decks him. Hitting a cleric, ha.
But dumb slapstick would’ve been a relief during this unmitigated series of stupid skits, ranging from an awkward (no, unthinkable) proposal, to a ridiculously bizarre department store scene where Ben beats up a mechanical baby while shoppers and the audience look on in dull horror.
This is not a story of how love conquers adversity as much as it’s a warning that marriage takes professional handlers to operate properly. In other words, it’s self-righteous and sets itself against the grain of romantic comedy. The film is so poorly written that even the now-requisite outtakes during the end credits are unfunny. Then again, if you just consider the lunk-headed title, you might have guessed as much. People who thought Knocked Up was too vulgar ought to watch this as a primer on how conservative families are made. You’ll long for a roomful of stoner kids who at least know it’s wrong to beat up little children in department stores.