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:: Licence to Wed

It is a knack of a badly acted or directed ‘feel-good’ comedy to leave its audience actually feeling not that wonderful afterwards. Slightly irritated in fact. Licence to Wed, like similar movies of this genre including the flop Failure to Launch does not have the makings of a great movie. Or even a good movie. Let’s call it an ordinary flick.

There is this common theme that runs through in these sorts of films - the male character, in this case, the bland as vanilla Ben Murphy (John Kraninski) is emotionally staggered and has a lot of trouble communicating. Surprisingly, in Licence to Wed, this repugnant quality in a man is portrayed to be almost “cute” and acceptable. (warning, a spoil breaker, folks.) Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore) decides, reflectively, that the fact that her fianc√© has not written his wedding vows but instead has drawn an irrelevant cartoon of trucks is cutely admirable. “That’s why I love him,” she later sighs. This is an example of the bubble gum and idiotic values that Licence To Wed is made up of.

It is a typical Hollywood romantic comedy, so typical in fact, that the couple meet in Starbucks, and while on this subject, watch out for subliminal advertising messages in the film! They are found in the reoccurring references to Starbucks, Macys and even Coca-Cola. “Let me buy you a Coke,” says Reverend Frank, aka Robin Williams.

Mandy Moore offers a syrupy, pleasant feel to the movie, but not much more. But, don’t hold anything against her, she is a sweet, if not a neutral offering, and does well enough for a transformed musician to actress. There have been a lot lot worse. Her co-star however, newcomer John Kraninski is, frankly, very grating to watch. While he shows promise as a witty, intelligent person at the beginning of the film, substantially he shows to be no more than smoke and mirrors and the audience may whisper the thought, “How did a guy like him get Mandy Moore?”

The director chooses not to focus any other characters except for Ben and Sadie, which is a shame because Robin Williams really is the reason that patrons past 30 are paying to see the film. More background information to Reverend Frank would have satisfied fans and perhaps filled in empty holes to his motives. Yet, even so, Williams' performance as the voyeuristic, over-zealous and of course, eccentric, Reverend Frank, is colourful enough, however it is disappointing compared to past quality of characters like Mrs Doubtfire.

What is also annoying is the lack of character development given to newly divorcee, Sadie's sister Lindsey Jones, played by Christine Taylor, best known for being Zoolander's love interest. Her role as a jaded and substance abusing recent divorcee has some true potential to shoot some much needed core into the film, but this was never developed, and frustratingly, Lindsey's mysterious story was never more than really hinted at angrily.

Licence To Wed will be seen by teenage girls on a Friday night at the movies or at senior citizens' weekly movie nights. It is a pleasant enough movie to view if you are after a light, fluffy time waster that won’t give you nightmares. Although, for those of you who have higher expectations with your movies, you might emerge from the cinema feeling disappointed, especially with the hyped comeback of Williams.

But then, that is can be characteristic of bad quality romantic comedies that is not a comedy, nor a love story.