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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Chick flick, but not a hit

Published: November 2, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

While judging a book by its cover is debatable, judging License to Wed by its title should be a rule of thumb. After all, any movie that deems it appropriate to use a James Bond pun in referencing marriage, is bound to be cute- sickeningly cute.

Released last Tuesday on DVD, the movie follows a young couple, Ben Murphy (played by John Krasinski of The Office) and Sadie Jones (played by former pop star Mandy Moore), who have a seemingly perfect relationship, until they agree to go through a pre-marital training course, conducted by Sadies childhood minister, Reverend Frank (Robin Williams).

Ben is laid-back, a mans man, while Sadie is an ambitious, obsessively organized owner of a flower shop. While their relationship is littered with a few embarrassing, but oh-so-cute moments (like when Ben accidentally grabs Sadies chest to prevent her from walking into oncoming traffic), it is clear that Ben is the yin to Sadies yang. This is about the point when I struggled to suppress an Awwww, and all within the first two minutes of the movie.

To be honest, while it certainly fulfilled any desire to watch a chick flick I may have had, the movie contained too much fluff and appeared to be another Hollywood production churned out in hopes of capitalizing off of the current popularity of its stars. Who can blame them, though? After all, The Office recently won two of the nine Emmys it was nominated for. While License to Wed does not come anywhere close to rivaling The Office in its hilarity, fans of the show will surely delight in the number of cameos made by Office cast members, Mindy Kaling, Angela Kinsey and Brian Baumgartner.

Despite the inherent sappiness of the title, I wanted to watch the movie in hopes of witnessing a comedic face-off between Krasinski, a representative of the current generations snarky, deadpan humor and Williams, an old-school comedian who gave us childhood classics, such as Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire and the racier The Birdcage.

However both Krasinski and Williams come out as losers in this situation, seeing as this predictable romantic comedy is not the right stage for a comedic head-to-head. While they did not necessarily give bad performances, they certainly did not go outside their comfort range. Krasinski maintains his affable attitude, muttering a sarcastic aside here and there, while watching Williams slip in small doses of his comedic style which just leaves the audience wanting more.

This proved to be a bland performance for Moore as well, as she strictly adhered to the girl-next-door persona she takes on in almost every one of her movies. However it is hard to say whether she did any serious damage to the quality of the movie.

This is not to say that License to Wed escaped the plague of many a romantic comedy: the irritating sidekick. This time around, this annoyance came in the form of Reverend Franks minister-in-training, a character simply credited as Choir Boy. However dont let the innocence of that name fool you, Choir Boy walks around like a mafia henchman who simply repeats everything Reverend Frank has to say. I have yet to figure out what he was supposed to serve. Perhaps, the writers, director and producers doubted whether Williams could still carry a scene completely by himself. However, the better choice would have been to scrap the Choir Boy character all together, giving Williams more screen time to stretch his comedic muscles.

All in all, License to Wed fulfills all the needs meant to be satisfied by romantic comedies. While it is worth dedicating 91 minutes to watching this film, it is the type of movie you forget about five minutes later.