Even with half the cast of The Office on hand to support him, John Krasinski strikes out in his debut as a big-screen leading man. But Krasinski can't be blamed for looking bemused and perplexed throughout License to Wed. After all, it's a bemusing and perplexing movie. Krasinski and Mandy Moore had to overcome a lot of preexisting bias in sharing the screen with Robin Williams, whose wacky Reverend Frank puts prospective brides and grooms through a gauntlet of premarital litmus tests. As much as these are ridiculous -- such as the groom guiding his blindfolded bride through traffic -- it's Moore's Sadie who deserves blame for giving the capricious Frank this level of control over their marriage. Yet the audience isn't directed to side against her for this lapse in judgment; rather, Krasinski's Ben is meant to resemble the typical male by being skeptical of Frank's methods, which supposedly reveals his lack of commitment. And those methods? Quite frankly (pun intended), they'd prompt any sane person to revoke Frank's clerical collar, especially since he seems to specifically dislike Ben, though (of course) no one but Ben notices this. License to Wed asks too many characters to play stupid, then doesn't offset that by being funny. As proof of the writers' spaghetti-against-the-wall approach, they waste five minutes on Ben arguing about a scatological engraving error on his wedding band -- a joke that has nothing to do with the central concept. License to Wed does boast one truly memorable set piece, though it has more to do with preparing for parenthood than for marriage. When Ben and Sadie tote a pair of disturbing, metallically mewling old-man robot-babies through the mall, dodging the fluids that simulate their urine and feces, it teases us into wondering how good the rest of the movie could have been.
by Derek Armstrong review