...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

July 05, 2007

License to Wed - 4

This review can also be found at relevantmagazine.com.

“A good marriage is founded on honest communication.”
“Most marriages end because of fights about finances.”
“Don’t let the in-laws get the best of you.”
You have probably heard these and others like it before. Marriage advice always seems to come in short and often trite aphorisms. It isn’t so much that these words of advice are false exactly, so much as that all relationships, marriage included, are usually more complex and storied than even the wisest one liner.
License to Wed uses the disconnect between the plethora of canned phrases and the sad reality of marriage in America (over 50% divorce rate) to critique simple answers and offers a more complicated picture of marriage. Using an over-the-top Reverend as a foil to create situations for this to-good-to-be-true relationship. Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore) and Ben Murphy (John Krasinski of The Office) meet randomly in a coffee shop and all is going smoothly from first date, to first kiss, to living together. When Ben finally pops the question it seems the only problem is whether to get married in Ben’s ideal spot- the Caribbean- or follow tradition and get married at the Jones’ long-time church- St. Augustine’s. No problem, the tradition seems reasonable. That is until they encounter Reverend Frank (Robin Williams) and his newly instituted pre-marriage course for anyone he is to marry. Rev. Frank, with the help of a 12-year-old apprentice (Josh Flitter), puts them through all the obstacles he can find to get them to the pressure points, trying to test in three weeks what the couple will commit to for a lifetime.
The forced situations are funny, but mostly outrageous. The film gets a laugh from the advice people give, to all the examples, role-playing exercises, and embarrassment that this proposed marriage provides. While the antics are entertaining initially, it soon gets tiring and the film must resort to the romantic comedy formula- resolving with both Sadie and Ben learning more about themselves, how to truly love the other, and living happily ever after.
The main problem with the film is that the audience already knows that relationships are hard, that human love does sometimes fail, and that marriage requires work. In the end, the characters in the film end up learning the obvious- that marriage isn’t given to you, but is pursued as a commitment to becoming who one truly can be.

No comments: