License to Wed
Directed By: Ken Kwapis
Starring: Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, John Krasinski, DeRay Davis, Josh Flitter, Eric Christian Olsen, Christine Taylor
|Studio: Warner Brothers|
Film Length: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, English SDH
Release Date: October 30, 2007
In "License to Wed", John Krasinski and Mandy Moore play Ben Murphy and Sadie Jones, a couple who have just announced their engagement. Sadie insists that they get married at the church she attended as a child. In order to do this, they must negotiate the unorthodox marriage preparation course required by Reverend Frank (Williams). Each element of the course seems designed to become progressively more awkward, embarassing, and invasive of their privacy. Ben continually questions the need for this increasingly humiliating ordeal and only makes things worse when he tries to fight back.
Without wasting time, I will just get to the point and say that this is one terrible movie involving a lot of fairly talented individuals. The problems appear to start at the script stage, where the film was conceived as a Frankenstein's monster assemblage of the worst romantic and teen comedy clichés of the last several decades assembled into a transparently obvious three-act structure. The principle characters are required to act like complete imbeciles in order to make the plot advance, which prevents the viewer from developing any level of sympathy or interest in their success or failure.
Based on their work in other projects, Krasinski and Moore are very attractive and likeable actors, but you would never know that from watching this film. Moore is undercut by the aforementioned idiot plot and some strange decisions by the hair and make-up folks that make her look like she had an allergic reaction to a bee sting after spending too much time in the sun. Director Kwapis either encouraged or at minimum allowed Krasinski to engage in too many mugging reaction shots that feel like they are telling the audience when they should find something funny or outrageous. Krasinski is similarly indulged when he appears on the television show "The Office", many episodes of which have been directed by Kwapis, but in that show, it plays as a silent communication between his character and the crew that is supposedly shooting a documentary film about his company. There is no excuse for this in the absence of the documentary conceit.
Williams tries to breathe some life into the character of the implausibly outrageous Reverend Frank, but for every funny bit he manages to create (I will not list any because they are so few in number that I do not want to spoil the only moments of enjoyment the film has to offer), he is saddled with a line as horrific as "So let me be Frank. Well, of course, I am Frank". Worse yet, he is saddled with a sidekick/protégé identified as "Choir Boy" played by juvenile actor Josh Flitter whose purpose was probably to generate some easy laughs, but will probably remind audiences of recent stories they have read about pedophile clergymen more than of "Mini Me" from the Austin Powers movies.
Director Kwapis fills out the supporting cast with talented actors who are asked to play things too broadly in scenes that go on for too long. One particular scene in a jewelry store featuring guest turns from Angela Kinsey and an un-credited Bob Balaban seems particularly interminable. Wanda Sykes has a few funny lines as a maternity ward nurse. DeRay Davis plays the most poorly-written friend with bad advice of all of the hundreds of friends with bad advice that have appeared in romantic and teen comedies since their presence in such films was mandated by the Writer's Guild in the late 1970s. Mindy Kaling barely registers as Davis' highly critical spouse. Brian Baumgartner and Rachael Harris play a different couple going through Reverend Frank's class, and I found myself wishing we could watch their characters' movie instead, which would likely be bad, but not as bad as this one. Somehow, the funniest characters in the movie wind up being a pair of hideously ugly robot babies who are good for a few cheap, if predicatble, laughs.
The film is presented in both a 16:9 enhanced 2.35:1 presentation and a 4:3 reformatted presentation on a single-sided dual-layered disc. For some reason, the DVD is authored as an RSDL disc even though neither of the two versions of the film span both layers. Contrast seems a bit soft, resulting in an inconsistent, occasionally smeared appearance. Both presentations appear to be very bit-starved with lots of visible compression artifacts throughout, although I only sampled parts of the 4:3 presentation.
Audio options include English, Spanish, and French 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks. The sound field was concentrated in the front hemisphere, with the surrounds and LFE used only sparingly, and not all that creatively. Audio fidelity was decent with respectable dynamics noticeable most clearly during music passages.
There are a set of (skippable) promotional trailers when the disc is first spun up. They include a 31 second "Ocean's 13" DVD trailer, a 31 second "In the Land of Women" DVD trailer, a two minute and 32 second theatrical trailer for "P.S. I Love You", a two minute and 49 second trailer for the "Seinfeld Season 9" and "The Complete Series Gift Set" DVD releases, and a 32 second trailer for the "Ellen" daytime television talk show. All the promotional trailers are presented in 4:3 video, letterboxed when appropriate, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.
Proper extras start with a series of five deleted scenes running a little over twelve minutes total. They are available to view with or without commentary from director Kwapis, and are presented in 4:3 letterboxed video with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. They consist of:
- An alternate animated opening done in a Terry Gilliam/Monty Python cut-out style.
- A scene in which Ben and Reverend Frank play one on one basketball with Choir Boy as the referee that was ultimately replaced by a scene where they play catch with a baseball.
- A scene in which Ben admires a Basketball given to his fiancée's childhood friend, Carlyle, by Michael Jordan
- A bachelor and bachelorette party sequence that runs almost six minutes and has a payoff that links back to the deleted Michael Jordan basketball sequence
- A brief alternate ending with Reverend Frank and Choir Boy talking and walking along a Jamaican beach
The disc is packaged in standard-issue DVD packaging with typical "big star head" promotional artwork on the cover. Menus are simple and straightforward due to the scarcity of extra features.
"License to Wed" is a fairly dreadful film consisting almost entirely of stale movie comedy clichés that wastes a potentially entertaining cast and fails to live up to the potential subversive nature of its premise. The film is given a lackluster transfer with copious compression artifacts visible throughout. Extras consist of 12 minutes of deleted scenes and an interactive series of segments with the film's "Choir Boy" character offering relationship advice.