Main cast: Edward Norton (Father Brian Finn), Ben Stiller (Rabbi Jake Schram), Jenna Elfman (Anna Reilly), and Anne Bancroft (Ruth Schram)
Director: Edward Norton
For those who dig guys, who would you choose – the witty, dark, and funny Ben Stiller or the antiseptic Edward Norton?
For Anna, she chooses Jake over Brian. Smart woman.
Unfortunately, Edward Norton’s directorial debut just p… l… o… d… s. Keeping the Faith is one movie that could use a professional editor – there are so many scenes that just fizzle out in their momentum. What can be funny ends up just… okay.
Three childhood friends, Anna, Jake, and Brian reunite after years of growing up. Jake has become a hip rabbi, Brian a hip Roman Catholic priest, and Anna worships Money and Power. But when both men fall for her, and she for Jake, things get complicated. Rabbi + non-Jewish girl = uh oh, for one. A side plot has Jake dating prospective Jewish wives, but as usual, the movie never utilizes the potential of this side plot, relying on cheap laughs at the poor dates’ expenses instead.
However, Jenna Elfman is a real surprise. Her Anna is very likable and charming. When she is hurt, I feel for her. It isn’t easy, but she manages to balance the aggressiveness of her businesswoman role with a lonely, vulnerable side. This makes Anna real, which is more than I can say for the two guys.
The biggest flaw of this movie is that, while it sets up a premise that promises to explore religious differences, it ultimately chickens out. Don’t want to scare the old sots now, do we? (Incidentally, this movie is banned in Malaysia due to positive portrayal of Jews – go figure.) Yet by playing nice and not offending anyone, it also loses much of its effectiveness. Keeping the Faith ends up a lightweight candyfloss of a romantic drama. Little substance and even less of anything else. But at least the lady ends up with the right guy.