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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.05%
Worth A Look55.26%
Average: 10.53%
Pretty Bad: 7.89%
Total Crap: 5.26%

4 reviews, 52 user ratings

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Keeping the Faith
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by Erik Childress

"Much Better Than Your Average Romantic Comedy"
4 stars

Keeping the Faith is an affirmation of the talents of Ben Stiller and Edward Norton. Not only does Stiller show that he can command your attention as a leading man but Norton adds another accolade to his wide range of talents by directing a fun romantic comedy that touches on a few sensitive issues, but more importantly, keeps you laughing all throughout.

Stiller and Norton play lifelong friends, Jacob and Brian, whose trio is broken up when their gal pal Anna moves away from New York. Flash forward a couple decades where Jacob is a rabbi, Brian is a priest and Anna is coming back to town. Anna is one of those girl friends that every guy should have. Sheís sweet and funny, willing to help out and be there whenever you need her, and is certainly easy on the eyes. This latter observation slowly reveals itself on Jacob who starts up a passionate affair with her. Your average romantic yarn would focus squarely on the tension between the two men who vie for her affection, but Keeping the Faith is too smart for that. Sure there is tension, but not initally between the two buddies, since Brian is kept in the dark most of the way. The tension resides from one of the age-old sources in this country Ė religion.
Thereís an underlying tension about religion and its practices riding throughout Keeping the Faith even in scenes that donít involve the romantic triangle. Jacob uses a fresh approach in his services to lure followers, lending credence to the suggestion that traditions can be changed as long as the essence is intact. His superiors think otherwise. Jacobís other superior, his mother (Anne Bancroft), also agrees that her son should be marrying a Jewish woman, hence the numerous fix-ups being arranged by his congregation, and the constant cover-up Jacob has to make of his connection to Anna. The presence of religion, both Jewish and Catholic, is a constant here, from sex talks with the priest to followers who believe that what is past should also be present. Pretty challenging stuff for what seems like a lightweight comedy, but not as challenging as one might hope as genre rules must be followed, even if they are followed well.
The script allows the relationship between these three people to grow naturally and doesnít just immediately throw Anna and Jacob into the sack. The slow buildup to their first sexual encounter is wonderfully conceived right up to the moment you see the gleams in their eyes as they talk intelligently over dinner. A great deal of time is thankfully given to showing all three characters at their jobs and how well they are at them since the workplace can be just as important to most young professionals as love. All of this wrapped in with some truly genuine laughs, ranging from screwballesque to everyday observations. Even the supporting players get to chime in nicely, especially Bancroft and the small part of a karaoke salesman (Ken Leung) who almost steals the entire movie with just a single scene.
At times it even feels as if director Norton was bringing homage or parody to actor Nortonís films. Thereís a scene where Stiller and Norton have to play for control of a basketball court (American History X). Nortonís character also narrates the story and makes reference to Brad Pitt (Fight Club). Even Milos Forman (Nortonís director in The People vs. Larry Flynt) appears in an amusing and poignant cameo as Nortonís superior. Norton even does a mild Andy Kaufman impersonation at one point, as he was one of the candidates to play the coveted role nabbed by Jim Carrey in Milos Formanís Man on the Moon.

All three leads handles their roles with equal humility and grace. Stiller gets most of the best scenes while Norton does an honorable job with what could have been the most thankless role in the cast. Jenna Elfman gives her best screen performance to date, creating a character that you wish you had in your life, a tough assignment to pull off. Keeping the Faith stands apart by actually having the presence of mind to deal with some issues along with the big laughs it promises, making it better and funnier than your average romantic comedy.

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originally posted: 04/14/00 06:29:49
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User Comments

7/22/18 morris campbell not bad 3 stars
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
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  14-Apr-2000 (PG-13)


  08-Jun-2000 (M)

Directed by
  Edward Norton

Written by
  Stuart Blumberg

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

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