License to Wed is a romantic comedy directed by Ken Kwapis and stars Mandy Moore, John Krasinski, and Robin Williams. It is the story of a couple engaged to be married go through marriage counseling with the priest (played by Robin Williams) to prove they are right for each other to be married in his church. And as the film goes along, crazy antics ensue with all of the normal rom-com cheese. My cousin got this for free from a friend recently and was something we planned to watch some night.
License to Wed is not trying to do anything new here, it’s just like the normal rom-coms you’ve seen a thousand times over. Being that this is a romantic comedy (or rom-com, for those who didn’t know earlier) I’m going to first talk about its comedy. License to Wed has some issues in presenting its funnies. At times it’s weird and crazy and makes no sense, but is still funny in an abnormal kind of way. But then there are times when it takes the embodiment of what all the other rom-com’s are and gets cliché with its jokes and situations. It’s a very odd mix, you don’t really know what you’re going to get when a joke is presented. But it’s nothing good for the film, it almost feels like when they go for the cliché jokes, they didn’t know what original writing would work there to make it funny. This is mainly just in the first act, but it is worth addressing. It dies down a little once we get to the second half.
Robin Williams makes this movie…I mean what did you expect? He’s easily the most famous actor here, at least for the time. His jokes, I feel, almost always landed where he wanted them (or, as well as they could with this movie, some were good ones too though). I also felt that Robin Williams and John Krasinski played pretty well off each other when the script called for it, wasn’t very often, but it worked then it was there. I feel these two were the only ones who kept me into this movie, otherwise I would have been ripping it to shreds well before the third act. The only problem with the priest character here is that the character never really learns anything here. Which is weird since he’s the third most important character here, I wish maybe there was something more he would work with to go a little deeper with his character. And it doesn’t have to be something that’s over dramatic or super deep. But maybe something subtle.
The other characters in this movie are just what you would expect from a rom-com. Like I said before, there really isn’t anything special here at all. John Krasinski is by far the most developed, while Mandy Moore’s character doesn’t give enough for me. Krasinski’s family hardly has any screen time and is swallowed by Moore’s family and their screen time. I mean this is a wedding after all, I kinda expected to see more family on Krasinski’s side. It’s an odd mixture. And of course you have the best friend of the man who is telling him everything he knows about being married. Which of course means he has a crazy wife who’s constantly nagging and he’s always complaining about her. But we hardly get to see Mandy Moore’s side of the story and her friendships. She’s always spending time with her family and getting advice from them, with the exception of like one scene. Whereas John Krasinski never spends time with his family and is always getting his advice from his married friend. And this wouldn’t be too big of an issue if the characters were developed in such a way where this was presented to be normal for them. It gives our main couple a big disconnect when the real conflict starts to take shape between them. I found it hard to get into Moore’s character to be honest because of the way she is written.
I think what this film has a hard time grounding is what its message is. It’s going for the struggles of marriage, and I get that part. But supporting that is a couple that don’t know much about each other. The movie tries to get us to believe they are the “perfect couple”, but when it really gets down to it they hardly know anything about each other at all. The movie briefly touches on this, but not nearly in the way it could have to make it good. I feel this was one of the easiest parts for this movie, but it tried to stick with being funny than trying to be a good film. It would have interesting for the main characters to decide to get married and then find out that they really don’t know much about the other partner than they thought they did. And not only in the sense to how the other handles different situations, but rather the normal stuff about them. I mean like their favorite color, their favorite foods, TV show, movie, things like that. The movie never gives me a sense that they know a lot about each other. And if that’s the case, then I don’t completely buy that they are “perfect” for each other either. I’m glad the movie says that not every couple will be perfect, but there’s more to it than that. I need to know why they aren’t perfect for each other. It would simultaneously be believable and relatable, I feel.
About 30 minutes from the end I realized how much better this movie would have been if it went for a different approach with its subject. Krasinski is the straight man here, and everyone around him is not as normal as he is. Especially when you have Robin Williams as the priest, and Mandy Moore’s family. Neither are completely over-the-top insane, but just abnormal. My thought was, instead of the priest and fiancé’s family being the abnormal ones, what if the priest was the straight man, having to deal with a new crazy couple wanting to get married? The priest then would be forced to do things out of the ordinary to help this couple and he would also learn along the way. I feel this would work better, the movie has the humor (at times) for a different setting that would make it funnier. The couple then could be completely over-the-top and the jokes that are really out there would fit better as the priest learn to adhere to the craziness of the couple and their families.
The ending of this film, of course, goes for the big emotional punch. One that makes all the guys groan and the girls go “aww”. How the movie ends really isn’t that very surprising, but the events leading to the climax are. The enormous jumps this movie makes left me in the dust with plot devices that were not setup magically appear, making this a choppy mess in an attempt to be super precious. It really doesn’t work for me, and of course conveniences arise and we get the happy ending. This is where the film completely lost me, I was waiting for a funny ending that never came, instead just only got mushier as the climax continued. It just didn’t stick the landing for me, it felt so disconnected from the rest of the film.
License to Wed is honestly a throw-away rom-com. Normal audiences will probably like this film for its weird comedy (when it’s there) and Robin Williams as the priest. I don’t think this film needed the PG-13 rating, if one scene was cut out it probably could have been just a hard PG. The jokes were funny at times, but always mixed with the cliché rom-com humor and it just didn’t work for me half the time. The characters were developed (well…kind of) but never really reached a point where I would remember them. But the movie is paced in a way that kept me interested and laughing from time to time. But it always gave me a sense that I was watching a movie. The film isn’t shot very well, the music is…weird. The comedy is funny, but never anything that I’ll laugh about later.
But I think that this movie’s biggest issue is that it reaches a point that’s safe and then never goes any farther. It’s noticeable here, I can see why they chose not to go one direction or another, but took the cliché route, because that’s the safest and the easiest. The movie either doesn’t know what to do with its subject matter, or just chooses not to take one more step into something that could be risky. It’s a safe movie, and basically what you see is what you get. A cliché rom-com with some funny jokes and situations, but nothing more. It’s a fun film to watch, I’ll at least give it that. If you can get past the really cliché humor that almost sticks out because it’s that bad. In the end I enjoyed License to Wed, but I had more problems with it than things I liked. It’s a very weird mixture of a movie. I battled forever wondering if I should give this movie. And I think the thing that swayed my rating was the ending being so disconnected from the rest of the film as well as the static development of the priest. I think I’ll give this movie a 5/10, but this has the mildest, of the mildest of recommends.