Jake and Brian are friends. They are Jewish and Catholic respectively. They would grow up and become a rabbi and priest. Anna, whom they knew when they were younger, comes back to town a stunning woman. Jake is up to be the head of his synagogue but he is not married which doesn't make his appointment any easier. Jake finds himself attracted to Anna but because she's not Jewish, he can't marry her as it would make his appointment less likely. Brian also finds himself attracted to Anna, but the priesthood doesn't allow that. Their friendship is strained when each learns of the other's feelings for her. Written by
[in an thick Philipino accent]
How you guys doing? I'm Don. Don, rhyme with flon. You have any question?
Father Brian Kilkenney Finn:
Yes, Yes indeed Don we do. Is this a good machine?
Yeah it is good if you cheap bastard. No jus... jus doing comedy with you. That one is okay. But if you are serious about Kar'-oke.
Father Brian Kilkenney Finn:
Oh we are!
Okay then... there is only one model for you. The AUDIO 2000. This baby got the 16-bit dual D/A converter, 3 beam checking, digital key controller, so you can change the pitch if your voice sucks. But ...
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Thank-yous include one to "Salmita Bonita", a reference to actor-director 'Edward Norton''s girlfriend, actress Salma Hayek. See more »
KEEPING THE FAITH (2000) *** Ben Stiller, Edward Norton, Jenna Elfman, Eli Wallach, Anne Bancroft, Ron Rifkin, Rena Sofer, Lisa Edelstein, Milos Forman. (Dir: Edward Norton)
So did you hear the one about the priest and the rabbi and the `business woman'? Well if that sounds familiar don't let that dissuade you from this frequently hilarious romantic comedy of the unlikeliest of menage a trois in cinema history.
Childhood chums, Jake Schram, Brian Finn and Anna Reilly - The Three Muskateers of the 8th Grade of Manhattan - are reunited nearly 2 decades later with a lot of catching up to do when Anna comes back east for a short stint as a high powered brokerage businesswoman (portrayed in full giddy sexy appeal by Elfman of tv's kooky couple `Dharma & Greg') who has her hands full when she finds her best buddies, Jake (Stiller in fine leading man/comedy mode) and Brian (Norton, equally riotous in his directorial debut) are, respectively, a rabbi and priest.
Seems the best friends only bonded stronger when their female compatriot moved out of the neighborhood pre-adolescently and shared more than their uncommon friendship: their devotion to their separate faiths. To make matters more difficult in Anna's sudden return into their lives is the fact that both buddies are in love with her but it is Jake who winds up making the first move as the frustrated young rabbi who is constantly being set up on disastrous blind dates by his meddlesome congregation (`the kosher-nostra'). After the initial awkwardness is overcome the two friends become a casual sex relationship that only gets further complicated when Jake cannot handle the fact Anna's non-Judea background must be taken into effect if he is to become a full-fledged rabbi at his synagogue. Brian, meanwhile, has found his libido at its leash when Anna begins to subsist in his dreams leading to a comical revelation by the film's conclusion.
The threesome have chemistry to spare and banter so witty and blunt by Stuart Blumberg's script that the pedestrian storyline (will Jake realize just what a good thing Anna really is and will Anna realize Brian really wants the best for her) is a no-brainer (and I have to admit the climax of Stiller addressing his followers with a mea culpea seemed to miss its mark since there was no real sense of him `betraying' his people), the film chugs along merrily and makes light of the religious overtones (one truly funny moment is the depiction of the young Jake sorting through his Jewish rabbi hero trading cards the way one would relish finding a Mickey Mantle rookie card) with a contemporary spin. Edelstein is memorable as well as the sinfully sensual Sofer as, respectively, date from hell and date from heaven for Jake. Bancroft and Wallach also lend veteran character actor shtick with all the nourishment of a nosh at the Carnegie Deli.
Elfman has proven to be a lovely comedienne and has always reminded me of Jamie Lee Curtis with her buoyant performances and adds just the right bounce as the tomboy all grown up. Stiller continues his stance as the hardest working man in comedy with another deft, dry turn as the befuddled rabbi and Norton display the tricky balance of skilled actor of his generation (his choirboy persona is perfectly advanced for his good-hearted priest and his knack for perfect imitations - i.e. Dustin Hoffman's `Rain Man' )- is only matched by his straight ahead approach to filmmaking; trimming the fat but keeping the high calorie comedy quota intact.
He even gets his former director Milos Forman (who put Norton through the paces on `The People vs. Larry Flynt') for a small cameo as an elder clergyman to get one of the film's biggest laughs (interrupted by a middle-of-the-night phone call for Norton he says he was `dreaming of his mother's sausages').
Believe in love and laughter is to appreciate a wonderful romantic comedy that has both in spades.
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