Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Keeping the Faith (2000) [PG-13] ****

Jake Schram, Anna Riley and Brian Finn might have just been three children living in New York City in the 1980s, growing up in the same neighborhood and going to the same elementary school. But Jake, Anna and Brian were much more... they were the closest of friends until Anna's father took a job in California and moved the family west. Jake and Brian continued their friendship, though, and now, in 2000 the two have grown up and graduated from seminary.

Jake (Ben Stiller) is a Jewish rabbi, while Brian (Edward Norton) is a Catholic priest. Still best friends, Jake and Brian are the local God squad. Jake has a problem though... rabbis in his synagogue have traditionally been married, and although Jake goes out on a lot of first dates with daughters of his congregants, he still has not found the right girl. Then, out of the blue, Anna Riley (Jenna Elfman) reappears, now a beautiful, high-energy, workaholic, businesswoman... a turnaround specialist for ailing corporations, on assignment in NYC. The threesome is back together, but there's a problem: Jake and Brian both find themselves falling in love with Anna. Unfortunately for Rabbi Jake, Anna is Catholic. And, unfortunately for Father Brian, Anna is someone for whom he might give up celibacy and the priesthood.

This is a well-written romantic comedy with a smooth, believable story arc and excellent character development. Edward Norton does an impressive job as actor/director, and there is terrific chemistry among the three leads. The supporting cast, including Eli Wallach, Anne Bancroft, Ron Rifkin, Milos Forman, Holland Taylor, Rena Sofer, Ken Leung and Lisa Edelstein, is excellent; the producers were very fortunate to assemble such a stellar cast, and it must have made Edward Norton's directing job much easier. Jenna Elfman is the key to making this story work, so if you enjoyed her in Dharma & Greg, you won't want to miss Keeping the Faith.

Labels: comedy, drama, reunion, romance
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 60/100
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=62, viewers=60)

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