A reach at the chance to resuscitate a treasured genre, Marry Me dons a hokey premise designed to satiate hopeless romantics that relish any new variation of the staple “meet-cute” premise in romantic comedies. With titles like Maid in Manhattan and The Wedding Planner under her belt, it’s clear from Jennifer Lopez’s effortless performance that she’s done this dance before.
Owen Wilson as Charlie Gilbert and Jennifer Lopez as Kat Valdez in Marry Me
Aside from performing musical numbers like “On My Way” and “Marry Me” with seasoned vocals and dance moves, Lopez spends most of the movie preaching words of wisdom that often sound like advice born from her own personal experiences. Although surely meant to bring a sense of notoriety to her performance, the insight on her real life relationships and the similarities between Lopez and her character make it impossible to separate the two women while watching.
We’ve seen similar variations of this story in movies before: A star who sits on top of the world is suddenly pushed off their pedestal and forced to live among the common folk for a stretch of the film, learning from those around them that love matters more than fame.
This version stars Lopez as Kat Valdez, a character not unlike herself, who is humiliated in front of millions of people when news breaks of her fiance’s affair moments before she steps on stage to marry him. Looking for a way to seize the moment and take a chance on love, the singer plucks a new and unsuspecting fiance from out of the crowd and marries him on stage while the world watches. Owen Wilson plays middle school math teacher Charlie Gilbert, who is plunged into Kat’s world of luxury and fame once the plot demands for their spur-of-the-moment marriage to continue. The film features an original soundtrack from Lopez and Latin superstar Maluma, who plays Kat’s cheating fiance, Bastian.
The conflict comes from Kat and Charlie taking a chance on their unlikely relationship while the threat of her possibly getting back together with Bastian looms over them. It doesn’t take long for Charlie to realize he doesn’t quite fit into Kat’s chaotic orbit and that being with Bastian is an easier route to the prestige she wants to achieve in her career.
The movie spends a lot of time explaining why its narrative isn’t that unbelievable, the whole while achieving the opposite. Lopez does most of the legwork in this film as Wilson plays the cardboard cutout of a man who long ago once felt something like love. He speaks only to make dad jokes, provide a quirky response to Kat’s proclamations or to deliver predictable monologues about how he doesn’t belong with her.
This movie would greatly benefit from Wilson playing a character with more than two dimensions. Instead, we revisit the same stereotypical school teacher whose only negative trait is that he’s agonizingly boring. Charlie radiates a paternal quality that has Kat second guessing the way she lives… growing from relying on assistants completing her every task to making her own breakfast in the morning. The movie intends for its characters to uncover the truth about love but plays more like a desperate grasp at the hopeless romantics who enjoy a cheesy premise, like randomly marrying a stranger who you end up falling in love with.
Although dating Charlie challenges Kat to be somebody of her own, she can’t seem to fight the urge to be who the world—and social media—believes she is. This movie is a timely dialogue of the pressure social media places on celebrities and how optics control what they do more than their own autonomy does.
The main highlights of the movie are Sara Silverman’s performance as a new and boisterous model of the “gay best friend” trope—rightly stealing the screen every time she appears on it—and Jimmy Fallon’s witty cameos. Their scenes are the gems of this movie, where the comedy feels seamless and real instead of calculated and flat.
Audiences who don’t hold logic as a requirement for the movies they watch might enjoy this film if they’re fans of Jennifer Lopez. The film aches to bring corny romantic comedies back into the hearts of consumers but ultimately steps back into a way of storytelling most viewers have grown out of. At the very least, Marry Me shows audiences why when your friend spontaneously invites you to a concert, you say yes.