On NBC's The Office, John Krasinski plays the closest thing to an audience surrogate, an apathetic paper salesman who casts conspiratorial glances at the camera, as if to say that he knows as well as we do the folly of what just happened. That cooler-than-thou attitude would grate if Krasinski weren't so likeable, or if it wasn't undercut by the irony that he's still a weak-willed paper salesman from Scranton, and thus not that much hipper than his co-workers. For these reasons, Krasinski is both perfectly cast in and completely wrong for License To Wed, his unfortunate bow as a Hollywood leading man. In many ways, the comedic black hole that is Robin Williams isn't all that different from Steve Carell's Office character, a manic joke-teller who specializes in putting people in uncomfortable situations. Krasinski knows how to play off Williams—his pained looks are all too appropriate in the face of Williams' desperate shtick—but it's disillusioning to see him here, because he seems too smart for this film.
Getting perhaps a bit too comfortable with her romantic-comedy persona, Mandy Moore looks like she stepped off the set of Because I Said So and onto this one without bothering to find another gear. (With her implacable rom-com cheeriness, she could be her generation's Meg Ryan.) After Krasinski proposes to Moore, she immediately sets to work on her dream wedding, and top priority is to secure a local church, run by Williams' "Reverend Frank," for the ceremony. Before he agrees to marry a couple, Williams requires them to go through several rigorous challenges designed to test their union and strengthen their bond for the tough times ahead. And since the only open slot on his schedule is three weeks away, Moore and Krasinski are forced to take a crash course.
License To Wed's premise isn't too bad: Many engaged couples are required to go through religious counseling sessions before tying the knot, and it can be an awkward process, especially for those who haven't been to church since the VCR was invented. But Williams' sessions are more disturbing and less funny than they should be. He tries to drive a wedge between Moore and Krasinski, but he seems motivated by a weird psychosexual connection to Moore, and he comes across more as a voyeur and a sadist than Williams' usual wacky-but-loveable nutjob. (As his devilish young protégé, Josh Flitter—who also did his best to spoil Nancy Drew earlier this summer—is even harder to stomach.) All poor Krasinski can do is sigh, look to the camera, and beg for deliverance.