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Overall Rating
3.8

Awesome: 21.33%
Worth A Look56%
Average: 9.33%
Pretty Bad: 8%
Total Crap: 5.33%

4 reviews, 51 user ratings


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Keeping the Faith
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by Scott Weinberg

"A clever spin on an OLD story."
4 stars

In order for a romantic comedy to find an audience these days, it can't be a simple boy-meets-girl story. There's got to be a 'hook'. Either the 'girl' is a world famous actress or the 'boy' is a re-animated corpse from ancient Spain who has to get married by Easter Sunday. While this plot device doesn't always work, this time the 'hook' (a rabbi and a priest chasing the same girl) is exactly what makes Keeping the Faith work, along with some help from a trio of great performances and clever, funny script.

Sometimes a movie can coast on likability alone, and this is certainly one of them. It touches on subjects like friendship, religion and commitment, but (for the most part) avoids being sappy and cliched. There are also a few surprisingly thoughtful moments amidst all the romance and giggles. (Would you give up love for your religious convictions?)

Rabbi Jake (Stiller) and Father Brian (Norton) are lifelong friends. They each have devoted congregations, proud mentors, and are even opening an inter-faith seniors' center together. (It's not nearly as corny as it sounds.) When their childhood friend Anna (Elfman) returns to New York for some business meetings, things get screwy: Jake develops feelings for her, yet still feels compelled to date exclusively Jewish woman, while Brian has mixed emotions regarding Anna and begins to question his faith (or his vow of celibacy, at least.)

Keeping the Faith does a nice balancing act between being too silly or too straight, and it shows with the cast as well. While Edward Norton is not known for comedy (and yes, I've seen Everyone Says I Love You), he handles the punchlines and the (few) slapstick scenes admirably. Conversely, Ben Stiller tones his sarcastic volatility down a few degrees and offers an excellent performance. Almost stealing the whole show is Jenna Elfman. In her past roles, she's either been drowned out by heavy satire (EdTV) or atrocious writing (Krippendorf's Tribe). Not in this movie. While Anna is a giddy and silly 'free spirit', it's obvious she's also an intelligent and feared businesswoman. Given the light nature of the movie and her previous track record, the depth of her performance was truly surprising.

A movie always deserves some praise when it can offer its message in an intelligent (or better yet, subtle) way, and it happens a few times here. Religious stereotypes (for the most part) are wisely avoided, and the script is smart enough to ever really dig too deep into the questions of faith and religion. (This may be the first 'religious' movie in years that hasn't had someone protest it.)

Edward Norton shows a surprisingly sure hand at directing, and although he's probably not making Spielberg sweat, his debut can certainly be considered a success. New York City should get top billing, as it is photographed in a fashion that would make Woody Allen jealous. The few 'big laugh' scenes come off particularly well, even if you've seen them all in the previews a dozen times. I doubt it's going to win any awards, but I can recommend any movie that can breathe a little life into such a tired genre.

Easily one of the best romantic comedies of the past few years, although I admit that's not saying much. It may get a little too "Aw, shucks" on occasion (the church choir pouring into the synogauge, for example), but not nearly enough to spoil a good time.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1782&reviewer=128
originally posted: 04/22/00 13:49:36
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User Comments

2/10/10 art A PHONY-BALONEY DOG AND PONY SHOW! 1 stars
7/22/09 art ONE FOR THE BOOK"S! 1 stars
7/09/03 natasha_theobald funny, sweet, thoughtful -- a love story with something more to explore 4 stars
4/17/03 elizaveta Ed Norton is a joy to watch, as always...Stiller, however, is not. Funny at many times. 4 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby Self-indulgent crap from the ego-driven Norton. Pretty damn lifeless. 1 stars
2/19/03 His Irishness This movie SUCKS!!!! 1 stars
8/18/02 Todd Hamilton Loved it, bought it, still watching it 5 stars
6/08/02 Phil M. Aficionado Stilted monologue at the start leads to a pleasant, clever, smart little film. Fun. 4 stars
3/13/02 Renee Keener Lame as B Stiller goes. Weak in keeping interest or vibrant message ; Faith watered down. 3 stars
1/27/02 Andrew Carden Some Parts Were Funny, but I Didn't Think It'd Ever End 3 stars
1/22/02 Michael This movie is hilarious! 5 stars
9/11/01 Nice Guy Eddie Pretty lousy romantic comedy, a disappointment from the usually brilliant Stiller. 2 stars
9/03/01 Butterbean Cute comedy, but very forgettable 3 stars
7/02/01 Richard Wright Not funny, Not romantic, with Jenna Elfman the most irritating actress this century. 2 stars
6/05/01 Psyko Doug Solid feel good movie. 5 stars
5/18/01 zeitgeist it was surprisingly pretty decent, but norton has had much better films 4 stars
5/16/01 radium nice, easy, intelligent. Don (karaoke) was unforgettable 4 stars
5/16/01 Bada Bing Crosby Ugh, a thin story stretched over two hours. THIS close to 2 stars
3/27/01 Monster W. Kung Funny, light-hearted comedy... too bad the end wasn't that good. 3 stars
3/26/01 nowak Intelligent, pleasant but naive and not v. funny. 4 stars
1/16/01 lulany Wonderful! Great chemistry between actors, funny, touching. Also great song (Heart of Mine) 5 stars
1/06/01 Pete Lightweight but enjoyable & sweet romantic comedy with great chemistry btwn the lead actors 4 stars
12/19/00 Tim Sorry Ben and Edward you may have had other good movies but this was not one of them 2 stars
11/19/00 Angus moorehead Elfman was great at the beginning.....but lost her spunk towards the end. 3 stars
11/10/00 Antoine Boyd The movie made you laugh, cry and shows ture love 5 stars
10/31/00 Monday Morning JENNA HOT is ELFMAN! Above avg. but dragged a bit in Act 2. 4 stars
10/30/00 cgrayson A movie centered on "a rabbi and a priest", which doesn't descend into trivial dumb jokes 4 stars
6/14/00 FREDDIE JENNA ELFMAN is HOT 5 stars
6/11/00 Belinda Poop! Very average movie - I kept looking at my watch. 2 stars
6/09/00 MR joel harwood ( JENNA ELFMAN IS HOT) It went for over 2 hours which is good i am sick of short movies o yeah it was really good 5 stars
5/27/00 Jaime N. Christley Awkward but intelligent and enjoyable comedy; Jenna Elfman is luminous. 3 stars
5/27/00 Chartsy I couldn't stop looking at Jenna Elfman, and I'm a girl. 4 stars
5/21/00 Greyjack Much better than I expected. A very pleasant film. 4 stars
5/21/00 mellemel Wasn't expecting to enjoy it, but ended up laughing quite a bit. 4 stars
5/15/00 Louis JENNA ELFMAN IS HOT!!! The movie's pretty good too. 5 stars
5/13/00 Kyle Broflovski Romantic without being blatantly mushy-gushy or dumbed the fuck down. 4 stars
5/04/00 Blackbird Froget Norton's problems, I want know about the Bartender's life. 4 stars
4/30/00 Katsat Throughly enjoyable. 1 superb reaction scene w/Norton oscar-worthy acting. 5 stars
4/28/00 PhilmPhreak When did Jenna Elfman get so HOT?? 4 stars
4/25/00 bullit17 Three great lead performances. Proves you don't need to blast religion to make it funny 4 stars
4/25/00 Captain Highcrime Girls, will your boyfriend go to such cornball lengths to make up with you in real life? 3 stars
4/20/00 Malbert Could have been really cute if some dumb(&long)scenes had been cut,Stiller&Norton were cute 4 stars
4/19/00 Girl9 Corny and Annoying...I couldn't stand it, but my boyfriend enjoyed it. 2 stars
4/19/00 seldom scene silly, sexy, witty, and unique. Well done!! 5 stars
4/18/00 schmegs I'm in love with Jenna Elfman... 5 stars
4/17/00 Shameless Romantic Pure magic; exemplary acting, divinely joyous atmosphere, very sharp & mature script 5 stars
4/16/00 AC Hey, Norton wasn't that bad... 5 stars
4/16/00 "Persnickety" this is an all out great movie, very cute 5 stars
4/16/00 The Rock Had a good feeling throughout. Well Acted and Directed. 4 stars
4/14/00 Des GREAT^%$#*$ 5 stars
4/12/00 John Doe good flic 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Apr-2000 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  08-Jun-2000 (M)


Directed by
  Edward Norton

Written by
  Stuart Blumberg

Cast
  Edward Norton
  Ben Stiller
  Jenna Elfman
  Anne Bancroft
  Eli Wallach
  Ron Rifkin



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