Keeping the Faith Movie Review

It truly is the oldest joke in the book: "A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar..." Okay, so you've heard this one. Well now you can watch the movie of the joke!

Keeping the Faith may not be quite that bad, but it's nothing to, ahem, preach about. Setting the film up with all the trappings of your classic, neurotic, New York relationship comedy, Faith wants to be a wry When Harry Met Sally... tale of opposites attracting and love conquering all. Oh, the opposites aren't the rabbi Jake (Ben Stiller) and the priest Brian (Ed Norton) -- that might actually be a movie worth watching. The kink in this picture is Jenna Elfman's Anna, the old childhood friend of Jake and Brian, who swishes into town and promptly falls in love with our rabbi.

While Keeping the Faith has some genuinely funny moments, you've probably seen them all in the trailer. The rest of the jokes often involve someone falling down or otherwise injuring themselves. The exception to this rule is Ken Leung's bit part as a crooning karaoke machine salesman (don't ask), who steals the show from the rest of the players.

Not that it's tough: what a dismal job these guys do with their parts! After proving herself to be genuinely dippy in bombs like Krippendorf's Tribe and EdTV, Jenna "Dharma" Elfman as a high-test corporate consultant stretches the boundaries of reality to the breaking point. Stiller is all right but uninspired, and Ed Norton seems like he has cotton in his mouth for half the film, he mumbles his lines so badly.

Normally I'd blame the director for something like this, only... Ed Norton is the director. And judging by this, his debut performance behind the camera, I think it's safe to say the phrase, "And the Oscar for Best Director goes to Edward Norton!" is something we shall never, ever hear.

Thanks to a sappy script that runs more than two hours (and this is a comedy!) and features a stroke, an ostracized son, and a near-excommunication, Keeping the Faith is a clear example of a huge collection of bad choices being paraded on the screen, one after another. But the worst sin of the film is its interminable blathering, with characters droning on and on with no point, so much so that I just stopped paying attention altogether.

Sounds like a sermon to me.

Stiller and Norton strut their stuff.


Comments

Keeping the Faith Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, 2000

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