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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 EricDSnider

"Some of my best friends are Jewish."
4 stars

So there's this priest and this rabbi, and they're both in love with the same girl. And then one of them winds up with her.

OK, so it's not a great joke. "Keeping the Faith" is not a great movie, either, though it is very good in certain respects. It actually has something serious to say about faith and religion, for one thing -- subjects that are not treated with much dignity in movies these days, if they're treated at all.

It's also a genuine pleasure to watch Ben Stiller in just about anything, and he and Edward Norton have a surprisingly good comic chemistry between them, Stiller with his witty, pop-culturey persona and Norton as an everyday schlub but with a cute smile. The always-gorgeous Jenna Elfman also delivers the goods, playing well with both of her onscren pals.

Stiller, Norton and Elfman play Jake, Brian and Anna, childhood friends who were split up when Anna's family moved after eighth grade. Jake and Brian remained best friends, though, and went on to fulfill their callings in life: Jake became a rabbi, Brian became a priest.

They're both modern in their approaches to their congregations, seeking to "shake the dust" off their respective religions. In fact, they plan to open an inter-faith Karaoke lounge together (one of several amusingly odd sidebars in this film).

Things get tumultuous when Anna, now a high-powered corporate gal, comes back to town for a while. Jake could never marry her because she's not Jewish, and Brian could never marry her because he's sworn a vow of celibacy. Nonetheless, she and Jake begin a relationship together, hiding it from everyone -- including Brian.

When the film tries for comedy, it succeeds gloriously. Jake refers to the Jewish moms who are always trying to foist their daughters on him as "the kosher nostra." Brian, upon learning of Jake and Anna's relationship, says, "I feel like I'm in a bad new Aaron Spelling show -- 'Melrose Priest.'" Jake collects "Heroes of the Torah" trading cards. It's a funny film, when it wants to be.

Trouble is, it doesn't want to be very often. It spends more time being serious with the love triangle, which leads to crises of faith for both clergymen. This is admittedly a fresh, new angle on the whole "romantic comedy" thing, and while it's a welcome change, it goes on for too long: This movie is more than 2 hours, and it feels like every second of it.

This is Norton's directorial debut, and while his eye is generally keen, he stumbles often in letting scenes go on too long, and including some scenes that don't even need to be there.

The conflicts -- Jake can't marry a non-Jew or his congregation will freak out; Brian is hurt that Jake lied to him; Brian's in love with Anna, too -- all get resolved a little too easily, almost without effort.

And yet, it's an enjoyable film. The stars are eminently likable, rising above dialogue that would bog many others down. It's not quite romantic enough to be a great romance, nor is it funny enough to be a good comedy. It's somewhere in between, with a refreshing dose of real-live religion thrown in to make the whole thing a little better than it would have been otherwise.

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originally posted: 07/04/03 18:28:48
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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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