Religion goes to a new level in Keeping the Faith as a Rabbi and a Priest fight over their beautiful young friend, who looks anything but old. What sounds like a bad discriminatory joke turns out to be one of the funnier movies of the year, starring the likes of Edward Norton, "Dharma and Gregg's" Jenna Elfman, and one of the best comedians out there right now, Ben Stiller.
A rabbi (Stiller) and a priest (Norton) who have been best friends since birth reunite with their old pal Anna (Elfman) and end up both falling in love with her, but she is only in love with the rabbi. So it's a love triangle story basically. Stiller gets the most screen time out of everyone, probably because he's the funniest. He is a 'New Age' rabbi in a sense and all of the Jewish mothers are trying to hook him up with their daughters, and so the movie explores a couple of his dates. Norton gets back-seated for a while (he also directs) as Stiller and Elfman hit it off, but his warm voice makes him the most enjoyable character of the bunch.
A lot of the comedy is acting humor, which basically revolves about the actor's ability to make a joke that might not seem so funny on paper be really funny on the big screen. Both Stiller and Norton are good enough actors to pull this off, but both have different styles.
The high and low points come from what this title suggests, Keeping the Faith. I am not a religious person and therefore do not care to hear about believing in God throughout the movie, and while it does not offend me, it just gets tiresome after a while. Keeping the Faith does have a large amount of references to the Big Guy, and despite this being a given due to the fact that the two main characters are messengers of God, a lot of the lines and scenes that revolve around religion do not help the story nor the comedy; they just get in the way. After all, this is a romance comedy. And that's where the high point comes in. While this movie is definitely pro-religion, the writer definitely doesn't mind making fun of the religions. Norton is extremely drunk in the beginning of the movie, has a dream about tearing off Elfman's shirt (which is one of the funnier moments of the film), sets his robe on fire and smothers the flames in holy water (after knocking a guy unconscious). Stiller collects Rabbi trading cards, plays conga drums at service, and so forth. Some people might not find this amusing, but I found it very amusing, and making fun of religion (not one religion, but two) while supporting religion at the same time is the key source of comedy for this picture.
Keeping the Faith isn't the funniest movie ever but still has a lot of laughs. Hopefully Norton and Stiller will keep with it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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