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.
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.
Run time: 91 mins
In Theaters: Tuesday 3rd July 2007
Box Office USA: $43.7M
Box Office Worldwide: $42.7M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 7%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 115
IMDB: 5.2 / 10
Director: Ken Kwapis
Producer: Bradley Fischer, David Thwaites, Kim Zubick
Screenwriter: Kim Barker, Tim Rasmussen
Starring: Robin Williams as Reverend Frank, Mandy Moore as Sadie Jones, John Krasinski as Ben Murphy, Eric Christian Olsen as Carlisle, Christine Taylor as Lindsey Jones, Josh Flitter as Choir Boy, DeRay Davis as Joel, Peter Strauss as Mr. Jones, Grace Zabriskie as Grandma Jones, Roxanne Hart as Mrs. Jones
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