Twenty one years ago, over the weekend of the Superbowl, Jennifer Lopez won over audiences with the innocuous yet likeable rom-com The Wedding Planner. History repeats itself with Marry Me, an equally sweet ’n satisfying date night flick that will surely act as successful counter-programming for this weekend’s Superbowl.
With the film hinging on an impromptu marriage at a live concert between a superstar musician (Kat Valdez played by Lopez) and a clueless Joe Schmoe in the crowd (math teacher Charlie Gilbert played by Owen Wilson) fresh after news that her fiancé (played by real-life musician Maluma) has been caught cheating, there’s no denying how illogical Marry Me is. Even the details leading up the climactic wedding are pretty silly. With its portrayal of the public’s obsession over a pop star and her new #1 hit titled “Marry Me”, the film feels like it belongs in a different decade. When a heartbroken Kat spots and singles out Charlie in an audience of thousands, the concert camera knows *exactly* where he is, and Charlie (who we’ve been introduced to as a touch neurotic) willingly steps up on the stage without asking any questions. Luckily, all of this silliness is in the film’s marketing. So if you’ve bought a ticket, you’re most likely prepared for this nonsense and any other incoming cheesiness (which includes dance numbers and a showdown at a math competition).
But as soon as Kat and Charlie’s meet-cute passes, Marry Me slips into a mode that’s easily digestible and quite charming. The last two romantic.comedies that I’ve seen Jennifer Lopez star in (The Back-up Plan, Monster-in-Law) require the actress to play characters that begin as an outrageous caricature and only grow more ridiculous from there. Maybe it’s because Lopez already shares Kat’s profession, but the character in Marry Me feels more grounded and human. Her motive to keep the marriage with Charlie going is driven by a fear of letting her fans see unflattering moments in her life (a life that is documented by, at least, one camera person at all times). It’s a motivation we’ve seen before, but Lopez sells it really well and we believe how uncomfortable she is. Charlie’s empathy is also endearing and, through this connection, the friendship-turn-romance between Lopez and Wilson feels authentic.
Also, instead of chastising audiences for being just as guilty as Kat for wanting to always show a clean image online, Marry Me sports more of a social media-positive message about being more honest with yourself. Social media can be treated as a tacky platform, but it can also be used as an outlet to project your true personality to other people who may relate to you. It’s so easy for movies to punch down towards current trends of online culture, but it takes extra effort to adapt and find the beauty in it. Marry Me may just seem like an efficient romantic comedy on its surface, but it also subtly encourages movie goers to confidently support their own integrity.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie