License to Wed

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Comedies don't get much lamer than "License to Wed." Working from a flawed premise with characters lacking credibility and plot turns more moronic than funny, the movie flatlines in about five minutes. Yes, it does star Robin Williams, but this is the cloying Williams who turns up in such movies as "Patch Adams" and "Jack." And for Mandy Moore, the film reps a step backward into nondescript fluff after proving herself capable of sterner stuff in "Dedication" at January's Sundance Film Festival. This "License" should expire a week after opening.

Williams plays an overheated if not mentally unbalanced minister who puts engaged couples through a relationship torture test before he will agree to marry them. So the movie asks us to accept a man of the cloth illegally bugging a couple's bedroom with minimicrophones, having the bride drive down a street blindfolded and encouraging the groom to pick fights with his future in-laws. Another of his great ideas is twin robotic babies that scream and defecate to simulate what having children is like. (Which, of course, ignores all the joys of real parenthood.)

Moore and John Krasinski of NBC's "The Office" play the put-upon couple, but nothing in Kim Barker, Tim Rasmussen and Vince Di Meglio's belabored screenplay (from a story by Barker and Wayne Lloyd) explains why they put up with any of this nonsense. Moore is therefore forced to play her character as too dumb and insensitive to notice, and Krasinski is a guy who will go along with anything including allowing the reverend to break his nose.

The most obnoxious character -- though just barely -- belongs to child actor Josh Flitter, who plays the reverend's henchman, Choir Boy. He does all the breaking and entering, electronic spying and remote controls on the berserk Robo Babies. He is made to look positively evil and is, we are told, a "minister in training." God help the parishioners of that church.

Christine Taylor and DeRay Davis play the thankless roles of Moore's divorced sister and Krasinski's best friend, respectively, each charged with delivering nothing but bad advice. Meanwhile, Peter Strauss looks stiff and unhappy as Moore's aloof dad.

For the record, no less than a dozen people took some sort of producing credit on this film.

LICENSE TO WED
Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Village Roadshow Pictures presents a Robert Simonds/Phoenix Pictures production
Credits:
Director: Ken Kwapis
Screenwriters: Kim Barker, Tim Rasmussen, Vince Di Meglio
Story: Kim Barker, Wayne Lloyd
Producers: Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Nick Osborne, Robert Simonds
Executive producers: Bradley J. Fischer, David Thwaites, Kim Zubick, Dana Goldberg, Bruce Berman
Director of photography: John Bailey
Production designer: Gae Buckley
Music: Christophe Beck
Co-producers: Christine Sacani, Louis Phillips, Trevor Engelson
Costume designer: Deena Appel
Editor: Kathryn Himoff
Cast:
Rev. Frank: Robin Williams
Sadie Jones: Mandy Moore
Ben Murphy: John Krasinski
Lindsey: Christine Taylor
Carlisle: Eric Christian Olsen
Choir Boy
Josh Flitter
Joel: DeRay Davis
Running time -- 90 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
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