CAST: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, John Bradley, Sarah Silverman, Chloe Coleman, Michelle Buteau, Stephen Wallem, Jameela Jamil, Utkarsh Ambudkar
RUNNING TIME: 112 mins
BASICALLY…: A world-famous pop superstar (Lopez) stuns the world by spontaneously marrying a normal school teacher (Wilson)…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
Through the late 90s and early 2000s, Jennifer Lopez starred in a number of high-concept, wish-fulfilment romantic-comedies which she was more than game to immerse herself in; movies like The Wedding Planner and Maid in Manhattan are largely remembered because she made such a likeable impression in them, no matter how unbelievably silly and predictable a lot of those films could be. The good news for those who consider themselves nostalgic for that kind of J. Lo vehicle, is that Marry Me is exactly this kind of movie in a nutshell, where Lopez’s incredible charm and charisma can easily lead one to forgive a lot of its outlandishness, of which there is plenty to behold here as well.
Lopez stars as Kat Valdez, a global music superstar who is romantically involved with fellow singer Bastian (played by Colombian musician Maluma), and in an unprecedented move they are planning to get legally married in front of the world at the final stop of her concert tour. However, moments before the ceremony, news breaks that Bastian has been unfaithful in their relationship, causing Kat to have an onstage emotional meltdown and, in a sudden burst of spontaneity, decide to marry a random stranger in the audience instead. That person ends up being Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), a mild-mannered math teacher who had been dragged to the concert by his friend Parker (Sarah Silverman) and his young daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman), and is suddenly plucked from the audience and married to Kat in front of the entire world. Although initially their shock marriage is played up for publicity, Kat and Charlie do begin to genuinely fall for each other, as two tend to do in a romantic-comedy.
Of course, this is the kind of movie that takes place in a heightened fairy-tale reality, where logic has pretty much gone out of the window – think of the legal repercussions of being suddenly thrust into the spotlight like that, and what if Kat had picked someone who was married or in a serious relationship? – and happy endings are almost a given, even within the most insane context. Thankfully, Marry Me is fully aware of its bonkers premise, but not to a point where it’s constantly winking at the camera; instead, it’s a launching point for some genuinely sweet and endearing moments which, while certainly playing into every single rom-com trope you can think of (the musical montage, the third-act breakup, and even the climactic race to the all-important event), are made tolerable because you really do like these two leads and their romantic journey. Both Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson are very charming in the movie, with strong chemistry that naturally develops as they grow closer and closer to each other, and you buy it because their moments together feel genuine and from the heart, mostly free of the treacly trappings that a less-capable movie couple would easily fall into.
Because the leads are so endearing to watch, it really does make you forgive a lot of the movie’s much more obvious flaws. It’s pointless to call out a rom-com for following the specific guidelines, because that’s what a rom-com is through and through: formulaic to the very end, and when done right it’s almost always fun to watch, even when you know where it’s going. That being said, the movie does try a little too hard to force some of the conventions into the picture, like the initial fairy-tale life that this mega pop star lives, where she’s constantly followed around by video cameras and being waited upon left and right by grovelling assistants, which is excessive to the point where you wonder if this person even has any relatability to the audience. The film also finds awkward ways of throwing Maluma’s Bastian character in as a threat to the central romance, because even though we’re pretty sure how things will end for him there still needs to be something for this performer to do in order to justify their third-top billing. Certain side characters like an effeminately gay choir director at Owen Wilson’s school are largely just thin archetypes, there just because they can be, even though we know by this point that this doesn’t mean they should be.
However, it is easy to get away with such flaws when you have a good enough reason to care about the two romantic leads, and their undeniable chemistry with one another. Jennifer Lopez, who incidentally still looks as stunning as she always has been, and Owen Wilson really do make this work better than it probably should, based purely on their natural charm and screen presence, making even the most batty premise for a rom-com seem dignified in the hands of the right people. It’s a perfectly serviceable date night movie that is all too easy to say “I do” to.
SO, TO SUM UP…
Marry Me makes the most of its barmy rom-com premise with the winning combination of Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, whose charming chemistry together makes it easy to forgive the film for some of its more outlandish flaws, and easy-to-predict conventions.