In an unorthodox kind of way, the comedy License to Wed bravely asks questions a couple needs to answer before tying the knot. How many children will you have? Who will balance the checkbook? And should Robin Williams
be allowed anywhere near an altar?
Robin riffs through the role of Reverend Frank, a Protestant minister and meticulous marriage counselor who coaches insecure couples before they walk down the aisle. Formula requires that newly-engaged Ben (John Krasinski
) and Sadie (Mandy Moore
) complete three months of marriage prep in three weeks, meaning Frank and his mini-me, credited as Choir Boy (Josh Flitter
), get to run these kids through the comedic ringer. Article continues below
License director Ken Kwapis
roots his comedy in offbeat, dysfunctional family humor. In the strongest scene, Frank encourages Sadie's family to describe Ben in one word. It's as uncomfortable as you could imagine. But these bits bounce along because Kwapis surrounds his leads with funny people. Christine Taylor
is loose and candid as Sadie's bitter, divorced sister. Wanda Sykes
comes (and the rapidly goes) as a wise-cracking labor-and-delivery nurse. And a few of Krasinski's cohorts from NBC's The Office moonlight in bit parts, with Brian Baumgartner
stealing a scene as an abused spouse who loves potato skins more than his longtime bride (Rachael Harris
Audiences who come to see Williams will leave talking about Krasinski. For their first exercise in male bonding, Frank asks Ben to pick up a baseball mitt and have a catch. It's a long setup so Krasinski can succumb to an obvious ball-to-the-nose gag. But the sequence is also a tidy metaphor for License, which has the nimble young comedian catching everything his improvisational co-star tosses at him and rolling through some amusing punch lines.
Moore, meanwhile, has made nine films to this point, eight of which I have seen -- not by choice; it's a hazard of this job. Her bond with Krasinski is the most credible she has formed so far. The two have bankable chemistry, and it allows License to float along for longer than you'd think possible.
It could be that Moore is maturing as an actress. It's more likely that Krasinski, described on-screen as "affable," just gets along with anybody in his atmosphere: from Moore and Williams to those robotic babies you see in the trailers, the ones with senior-citizen faces, flailing limbs, and formidable bowel movements. Trust me, it's scarier (and funnier) than it sounds.