'License' Revoked

Robin Williams stars in yet another comedy that should not have been made

There was a day--I think it was back in 1982, when I was a teenage moron--where I would get very excited about the release of a Robin Williams comedy. It was mainly because I loved Popeye and was an ardent Mork and Mindy fan.

But now, I pose this question: Has there ever been a really, really good Robin Williams comedy? To this question, I must answer no: Father's Day, Mrs. Doubtfire (Nuts to Mrs. Doubtfire: It blew!), Flubber ... the list of crap goes on.

After last year's abysmal Man of the Year, I still found myself hoping that Williams would one day actually inhabit a funny movie, because I'm an optimist, and I never learn. License to Wed, as it turns out, is miles from anything that even smells vaguely funny. It's the typical Robin Williams vehicle, where he's expected to carry a rancid script with his semi-wacky persona; as usual, he fails.

Williams plays Reverend Frank, a wisecracking preacher who puts potential newlyweds through a rigorous pre-marriage course to prove whether they are worthy of each other. His latest victims are Ben and Sadie (John Krasinski and Mandy Moore), a young couple who want to get married in Reverend Frank's screwed-up church. Actually, Sadie is the one who wants to get married there, because it is, inexplicably, her lifelong dream. This makes her an idiot in my book.

Ben and Sadie luck into a quick wedding spot at the impossibly popular church (due to a cancellation, they can get married in three weeks!), and they must go through Reverend Frank's regime in crash-course fashion. For starters, they're not allowed to have sex until the honeymoon (that's just hilarious!), and they must be really honest with each other.

One of the humiliations Ben must endure includes getting hit in the nose with a baseball hurled by Reverend Frank (because bloody noses have always been good for a guffaw or two). Ben will also embarrass himself during some sort of honesty contest, get shat and puked upon by evil robot babies, and be exposed for taking his sweet time writing wedding vows.

Finally, he will be rejected by Sadie on the eve of their wedding, leaving viewers in an anxious state of uncertainty as to whether the two will actually tie the knot at film's end. Viewers may also wonder whether Reverend Frank will reveal himself to be a swell guy after all, more or less just pulling the couple's combined legs in an ingenious scheme to show they really love each other.

Man, the suspense was killing me. Oh, and did I forget to mention that all the while, you probably won't be laughing at all? That you will probably be embarrassed with yourself, as I am, for ever thinking Robin Williams was funny, or could be funny?

When it comes to comedies, Williams is a two-trick pony. Either he's screaming his head off during some improvised, unfunny observational thing, or talking low (almost mumbling) so as to project that dry-wit mode. Either way, the guy stopped being funny back in 1991 with his performance as an insane man in The Fisher King, which was actually a drama.

Krasinski is left to mug in a bad romantic-comedy way, although he does much better than fellow NBC sitcom star Zach Braff did in the pitiful The Ex. Moore somehow manages to shine through an awful, embarrassing part. The fact that I could like her in this movie proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she has major talent.

Don't get me wrong; I like Robin Williams. In fact, I really like him in many dramas, including ones where he's allowed to show a bit of his comedic side. As for his straight-up comedies, he straight-up sucks.