You gotta Keep the Faith
It has to be said "Keeping the Faith" starring Edward Norton and Ben Stiller is a surprisingly enjoyable movie, basically a rom-com which also sort of attempts to deliver a message that religion need not be boring. Does it succeed; well it certainly is entertaining viewing with the comedy being the main focus as the romantic storyline basically provides the vehicle for much merriment. To be honest it's not laugh a minute but there are some very good set pieces and more importantly features Ben Stiller before he got set in his comedic ways.
Brian (Edward Norton - The Incredible Hulk), a catholic priest, and his best friend, Jake (Ben Stiller - Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), a Rabbi, both fall for their long-lost childhood friend, Anna (Jenna Elfman), who has returned to Manhattan to further her career in business. However, Brian has taken a vow of celibacy, and Jake is constantly being set up with suitable dates by the Jewish mothers in his temple. The workaholic Anna isn't Jewish, but this doesn't stop her from starting a relationship with Jake which leads to complications between the close knit pals.
As rom-coms go the plot to "Keeping the Faith" is not really about the romance, but more about the interactions and feelings of the 3 friends. The differences between each of them provide plenty of scope for humour, and a lot of this centres on the different religious aspects of Brian's and Jake's faiths. There are some great scenes where both Brian and Jake try to liven up their services much to the disconcertion of their elders. But the jokes are not just about religion and there are plenty of humorous moments revolving around Anna being a workaholic with her phone near enough glued to the side of her head or strapped to her thigh on vibrate. The humour may seem a little staid and dated but it is not weak and works well within this type of movie.
What is also good about "Keeping the Faith" is in the casting. Surprisingly Edward Norton not only takes a lead role but he also makes his debut as a director. I don't think of Norton really as a comedian but his type of humour which at times works on being a bit stiff is a nice contrast to Stiller's more confident type of humour. Plus "Keeping the Faith" was made before Ben Stiller started repeating the same sort of performance in every movie. Add to this Jenna Elfman who is not only gorgeous but again works well to define contrast between the characters. My only complaint is that for a rom-com the romantic chemistry is lacking but then again the emphasis of "Keeping the Faith" is more on humour than romance.
What this all boils down to is that "Keeping the Faith" is a surprisingly entertaining rom-com, the humour in it is controlled so that it compliments the script rather than being over the top, which makes up for a pretty weak romantic plot line. "Keeping the Faith" is also a film which despite having a fundamentally weak storyline keeps you interested, which is down to good performances and the focus on the characters more than anything else. Whilst it won't make you bust a gut with laughter it will keep you entertained more than you might expect.