Keeping the Faith (2000) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for some sexuality and language
Running Time: 128 min.
Cast: Ben Stiller, Edward Norton, Jenna Elfman, Anne Bancroft, Eli Wallach, Ron Rifkin
Director: Edward Norton
Screenplay: Stuart Blumberg
Review published October 14, 2000
In KEEPING THE FAITH, Ben Stiller plays a rabbi, Edward Norton plays a Catholic priest, and Jenna Elfman is their childhood friend that moved away long ago. Now she is back, but feelings long thought gone re-emerge in the men, causing religious complications for both. Stiller is expected to marry to gain eldership, but Elfman isn't Jewish, while Norton has vows to abstain from sex altogether.
KEEPING THE FAITH is notable for being the debut of Edward Norton as director, and in this regard, it's an impressive start. With the exception of the rather excessive length (at over two hours it's a half hour longer than most romantic comedies), the good acting, fun comedy and interesting romantic dilemmas makes KEEPING THE FAITH pretty solid entertainment for much of the way. Although known mostly for comedies, Elfman and Stiller impress most while they are engaged in the more dramatic scenes, while Norton is likeable in a rare comedic role. With some tightening up of the script, KEEPING THE FAITH would have been one of the better comedies of 2000, but it manages to keep afloat even when it gets mired in needless scenes that make the film overlong as a whole. There's enough good qualities and fun moments to recommend it as a sweet-natured time-filler, especially if you are Jewish, Catholic or just a resident of NYC.
©2000 Vince Leo