Man alive — I am so frickin’ tired of Robin Williams. But more than that, I’m tired of talking about how tired I am of him. Every three or four months, one of us (usually me) is forced to pull out the old “Robin Williams sucks” spiel. To relive Patch Adams, RV, Bicentennial Man, Flubber, Father’s Day, Jack, et. al., and talk about what a mockery the man has made of his career. How he ought to retire. Hang up the Ethel Merman impression. Shoot the Elvis/John Wayne shtick in the head. Kick Smoochy in the nards. Wonder miserably what happened? He used to be so funny, one of us might suggest (reality check: Robin Williams has never been that funny — he doesn’t have a truly remarkable comedy on his entire resume, and if you say Mrs. Doubtfire, then you must be taking the passing of Joel Seigel awfully hard). Then, of course, we have to throw in the requisite shout-outs to Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King and Dead Poet’s Society for the few Robin Williams’ apologists, and then somebody in the comments section will pipe up, “What about What Dreams May Come? Yeah — what about it? It sucked. It really, really sucked. But, it sure was pretty.
Is that it? Have I hit all the Robin Williams talking points? Oh wait. I forgot one: He was so much funnier when he was snorting coke. Eh. Not really — he just talked faster. Waved his hands a little more. I can see how, in some people’s estimation, that that might come off as funny, but really, it’s the same old dog and pony show, only slightly more manic. And honestly, sobered-up Williams is plenty manic for me. Give the man a horse tranquilizer, and then maybe his sense of humor will crawl out from beneath the boulder of his career.
What’s almost as bad, really, is that for the last two weeks, John Krasinski has been doing the goddamn talk-show circuit, and since most of the hosts are still woefully out of touch, they all ask the same questions: How was it to work with Robin Williams? And Krasinski politely talks him up — “legend, so funny, it’s been a pleasure working with him, comedic genius, you learn so much from the guy,” blahtty blahtty fuckin’ blah. But you know what? Robin Williams could actually learn a helluva lot more from Krasinski, who can flash one look into the camera and extract more laughs in a single second than Williams is capable of getting during an entire movie. I’m not suggesting that Krasinski himself is some sort of comedic genius, or that his look-into-the-camera facial expressions won’t get old (though they haven’t yet, at least for me), but at least the man knows a little about the art of subtlety. He understands that there is more to humor than 20-year-old O.J. Simpson jokes, bad impressions, and a lot of moronic non sequiturs.
Not that Krasinski could save License to Wed, mind you. It would’ve taken some Charlie Kaufmanesque absurdest twist of epic proportions to even make it watchable, and only then because it would’ve kept it from being so tedious and formulaic. It’s bad, as it’s basically just another Meet the Parents retread, only the De Niro part is played by an overprotective minister (Williams). All the other elements are there: Doofus boyfriend who systematically self-destructs, control-freak girlfriend (Mandy Moore) dumb blonde platonic friend, and “kooky” family members, each of whom are somewhat suspicious of the boyfriend, Ben (Krasinski). And just to make it full circle, even Ben Stiller’s wife (Christine Taylor) is amongst the cast, as the alcoholic spinster sister.
The holiday is approaching, so I’m going to save you from the full-length blow-by-blow. The plot, such as it is, goes something like this: After Ben and Sadie get engaged, Father Ted puts them through a marriage course before he will marry them. After that, it’s bad joke (“Get the flock out of here”), Elvis impersonation, mildly amusing physical comedy (seen in the trailer), bad joke (“You want to walk the midget”), sitcom contrivance, two hysterically funny scenes (thanks to “The Office’s” Brian Baumgartner), manufactured conflict, break-up, cheesy romantic gesture, bad joke (“It comes from above, I’m just the TiVo”), “Oh Happy Days,” the end. In fact, the only thing really missing from the Meet the Parents assembly line is the house pet — I’m sure it was mercifully left on the cutting room floor.
Thankfully, License to Wed is entering a very crowded marketplace, so most of you will be too busy dulling yours senses by watching Transformers, grieving the downfall of John McClane, or living it up in Pixar land to notice Wed come and go. And that can’t be anything but good for Krasinski — there’s no point in allowing a bad Robin Williams comedy derail what looks to be a promising career. Now, if only we could convince Krasinski to leave the camera glances on the set of “The Office.”
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife in Ithaca, New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.
License to Wed / Dustin Rowles
Film | July 3, 2007 | Comments ()