Dir. Ken Kwapis, US, 2007, 91 mins
Cast: Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, John Krasinski
Review by Carol Allen
When accident prone slacker Ben (Krasinski) meets neat and pretty Sadie (Moore) it looks like the attraction of opposites has created a relationship made in heaven. But when he pops the question, Sadie insists on fulfilling her girlhood dream of being married in her family church, which is run by would-be cool priest, Reverend Frank (Williams). However, the Reverend has a policy (who doesn't, these days?) that he won't tie any knots until the intended couple have graduated from his marriage preparation course, which involves a "no further sex until marriage" rule, humiliating role playing classes, having their home secretly bugged by him and being forced to "parent" truly ugly twin baby robots programmed to yell continuously at one end and leak copiously at the other.
This is a comedy with a distinctly unpleasant feel to it. Despite the uncomfortably cruel, gross and intrusive nature of Reverend Frank's antics, the ambiguous nature of his relationship with his overweight prepubescent assistant (Josh Flitter) - "the Reverend Frank is everywhere", the little creep marvels admiringly - and the Reverend's disturbingly enthusiastic questioning of Sadie regarding her preferences when it comes to 'in bed' activity, the impression is still given that the Reverend is right in his tactics. The film comes over as a thinly veiled promotion of the idea of Christian marriage, whilst pretending to be a saucy comedy. It does have the odd mildly funny gag, such as when the by now justifiably rebellious Ben starts to treat the "twins" like the stupid dolls that they are, but the in-your face-Christian values sermon rather mitigates against the laughs.
Krasinski and Moore have a certain naïve charm, but Williams, predictably in view of the nature of the role, is a bit irritating, falling back on a mixture of the twinkly, warm-hearted tics combined with a few of the menacing ones that we've seen in previous films. The supporting characters are largely ciphers. They include Sadie's bitter, divorced sister (Christine Taylor) - obviously not a graduate of the Reverend Frank's matrimonial bliss course - and Ben's best mate Joel (DeRay Davis), whom marriage has turned into a hen pecked moron with the implication again that it's all because he and his wife didn't do a Reverend Frank style pre-nup. The film is also totally lacking in any dramatic tension whatsoever. By the end the lesson what the couple have learned about each other, which will enable them to stay together happily, is that he's a bit of a slob, she's a bit of a control freak and they need to accept that in each other. No great surprise there. See my first sentence.