I do not like movies with conflict in them. What I mean by that is, generally I don’t like it when there are two equally nice guys who are vying for a woman’s attentions and both are genuinely in love with the leading lady. This decade old movie is something I did want to rent for a while now. Finally I did in what turns out to be a movie that causes mixed reactions.  

Keeping the Faith (2000) Film Review

Young middle-schoolers Brian and Jake are inseparable but like many children, they have bully problems until the day when the pretty and tomboyish Anna Riley comes along. Then, everything changes. The three of them become the best of friends. Then Anna leaves NYC in the rearview when her family moves across country to California.

Some twenty years later, Brian (Edward Norton) and Jake (Ben Stiller) are still the best of friends but their lives go in directions they’d have never expect. Brian is an ordained Catholic priest with a real commitment to his faith. Jake decides to throw away the family banking business and is at peace to pursue his faith and become a Rabbi. Just as both begin to find their rhythm, Brian hears a voice from the past in the form of Anna…  

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‘KEEPING THE FAITH’ (2000). Ben Stiller and Edward Norton play best friends in love with the same girl. All text is © Rissi JC

A successful businesswoman, Anna (Jenna Elfman) is coming for business purposes. Soon the three slip back into their comfortable friendship and they make the most of their limited time together. Anna participates in the guy’s new roles while she and Brian help Jake on a blind date. Possible heartbreak arises when Anna’s feelings suddenly shift and she begins to fall for the one guy who could challenge not only her workaholic personality but also complicate her lifestyle. And destroy the friendship she has with Brian and Jake.  

For an older movie, I enjoyed this one. Most of the time, the movies I’m curious about from this era of movie-making (late nineties into the early millennium era) I already watched. This one however, is different. For a reason I cannot put my finger on, Keeping the Faith is one I did want to see. It could stem from the fact that I remembered my mom saying it’s adorable or it might be the storyline. My assessment of a way outdated (it is) production is right, and I’m quite annoyed by the commentary voice-over which works to set things up. After this, I cannot say that there’s much for me to find fault with as regards the production vocabulary

I knew the general premise of this movie going in but at the same time, I thought it’d be different than it is. I’d no idea that Anna fell for one guy. (I think in my mind, I put this down to a falling-for-two-guys-then-having-a-heck-of-a-time choosing one scenario.) Such a script is not to be found in the scenes of this cute little movie. I don’t think Stiller is the ideal man for romantic roles but… he’s a great comedic and for all practical purposes, Keeping the Faith is chiefly, a comedy. Norton is nearly unrecognizable here as a blonde plus he also directed this little gem while Jenna is adorable in this role; she fits exactly the description and personality of how the writers set up her character (minus one terrible crying scene).

Some viewers may finds certain approaches to faith offensive. I’m not Jewish or Catholic so none of the flippant manners that some of the characters reference God’s tolerance offends. But that’s not to say I don’t understand why some people might take offense. The movie moves more into the territory of lasting friendships than anything so as a result it focuses on what it takes to ensure a relationship stays intact even when obstacles may hinder those friendships.  

Keeping the Faith is far from perfect. It has a caviler attitude about more than one moral choice and seems to promote
promiscuity in a casual manner, but buried beneath it all is a memorable comedy that is a charming ‘keeper.’  

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You can find Keeping the Faith digitally on Amazon Video

Content: an unmarried couple engage in a sexual relationship – and in fact their entire relationship seems to revolve around a casual summer fling. They are seen passionately kissing a number of times with legs intertwined. Elsewhere, Jake’s date attempts to get him back to her apartment for an overnight stay. There are a few scattered profanities [including misuse of Jesus’ name]. Anna has the “sex talk” with Brian – he also has a “sexual fantasy” about Anna [it goes no further than kissing and is cut just when he rips open her top]. The film is PG13.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. Hmmm, this sounds interesting… Not sure I'd want to watched it though because of the sexual themes… :P Also because I REALLY don't like it when there are two guys {or girls} vying for the main character's attentions and affections.
    But you did a great job at reviewing this! :)

  2. Sans the immoral content (I bought an edited copy a long time ago) I love this movie: it is hilarious! I get why Brian was never in the running as a romantic lead, since he's a priest — but *I* loved him! I would have chosen him hands down, even if it meant never having any actual romantic relationship with him. This is actually one of my favorite Ed Norton roles (the other two being The Illusionist and the Hulk!). I'm not really a fan of anyone else in the cast, but he MAKES the movie for me, even as a blonde (that is, apparently, his natural hair color).

  3. Trinka – thanks! I quite enjoyed this movie. It was a little too "dated" for my tastes, but still fun. =)

    I know what you mean about the content – it continues to be annoying even when it does conform to the PG13 rating…

    Charity – yeah, I watched this one on ClearPlay. In reading about the content, it didn't have anything "worse" in it than all the other rom-coms I love, but that's what I got the player for, so I want to use it!

    This did have some great humor. There was one scene (where Anna confesses everything to Brian) that I thought was a little fake but otherwise I thought everyone was great in their respective roles. Jenna was the perfect tomboy-ish character while Edward and Ben (don't love him though) made great male leads.

    Hmmm… so blonde is his natural color!? Guess I'd always seen him with darker hair – The Illusionist is a beautiful movie. My mom just said the other day that we'd not watched it for ages and she was right!

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