Keeping The Faith

"Very Good"

Keeping The Faith Review


A deftly updated homage to the screwball comedy stylings Howard Hawks, George Cukor and Billy Wilder, "Keeping the Faith" acknowledges right away that its plot, about two men of the cloth falling in love with the same girl, sounds like a lame bar joke.

It opens with the fantastic and versatile Edward Norton ("Fight Club," "American History X") playing a spiritually conflicted -- and at the moment, completely sauced -- Catholic priest, pouring his soul out to a patient bartender. "So there's this priest and this rabbi, and they're best friends, see...," he slurs into his beer.

The rest of the story goes something like this: Ben Stiller co-stars as the padre's rabbi rival for the affections of the magnetic Jenna Elfman, a long-lost friend from their shared Brooklyn childhood who pops back into their lives 20 years later, all grown up, sexy, sweet and irresistible.

It's a gimmicky storyline to be sure, but even the best lame bar joke has never had me in stitches the way this whimsical and ingenuous romantic comedy did.

At first Elfman's return to New York as a West Coast workaholic on a business trip stirs up only an inkling of desire in these two faithful fellows -- who as energetic preachers with full of pulpit punchlines are both focused on "kicking the dust off our faiths." And of course, Norton has taken an oath of celibacy, which is something that has yet to bother him one bit, he gladly explains to his beautiful pal.

Stiller is in a different boat entirely. His whole congregation is trying to find him a wife, and every Jewish mother with a presentable, 20-something daughter corners him on Sunday mornings, attempting to schedule dates.

However, hanging around with the adorable Elfman -- cute and perky as always yet completely credible as corporate ball-buster -- soon stirs up old feelings that had only begun to percolate in the boys when she moved away from their neighborhood just prior to puberty. ("She was a magical cross between Johnny Quest and Tatum O'Neal in 'Foxes,'" Norton pines to the bartender in the opening scene.)

Facetiously hip (Norton and Stiller wear Armani leather jackets and shades with their clerical collar and yarmulke), sublimely nutty and surprisingly respectful of religious faith, this side-splitting comedy even manages to slip in some delicate, honest moments of emotional candor after Stiller and Elfman fall into bed and begin to wonder how his congregation would take it if they find out he's in love with a gentile. Then the movie cuts to a shot of Norton reading "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" and the belly-laughs are on again.

Already an undeniably great actor with remarkable range, Norton makes his directorial debut with this accomplished comedy and does such a superb job holding its capricious elements together, I can't help but wonder if that huge ego he's rumored to have might not be completely justified.

Despite a few forgettable flaws (like the poor transition from his drunken stupor to a sober voice-over during the intro), he gets just about everything right here. Not only does he employ often ribald, near-non-stop laughs without ever back-handing either religion, but he also insures the characters are charming enough to keep the audience captivated for 131 minutes (comedies are usually under 100 minutes) without the picture ever feeling indulgent.

"Keeping the Faith" is the first movie this year I wanted to watch again the minute it was over. What a great surprise.



Keeping The Faith

Facts and Figures

Run time: 128 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th April 2000

Box Office Worldwide: $37M

Budget: $29M

Distributed by: Touchstone Pictures

Production compaines: Spyglass Entertainment, Touchstone Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Fresh: 79 Rotten: 36

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Rabbi Jake Schram, as Father Brian Finn, as Anna Riley, as Ruth Schram, as Rabbi Ben Lewis, as Larry Friedman, as Father Havel, as Bonnie Rose, as Ali Decker, as Don

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.