THE STORY – Pop superstar Kat Valdez is about to get married before an audience of her loyal fans. However, seconds before the ceremony, she learns about her fiance’s cheating ways and has a meltdown on stage. In a moment of inspired insanity, Kat locks eyes with a total stranger in the crowd and marries him on the spot. As forces conspire to separate the unlikely newlyweds, they must soon decide if two people from such different worlds can find true love together.
THE CAST – Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, John Bradley & Sarah Silverman
THE TEAM – Kat Coiro (Director), John Rogers, Tami Sagher & Harper Dill (Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 112 Minutes
By Nicole Ackman
Some romantic comedies are genuinely great films with moving and eloquent scripts, strong performances, and beautiful filmmaking (Yes, I’m mostly talking about “When Harry Met Sally”). But most of them don’t need or even want to be serious films that make a statement. We don’t typically reach towards a rom-com for a fantastic script, stunning cinematography, or a thought-provoking concept. We go to them for something light and fluffy because we want to be entertained, to escape from our everyday lives, and to believe in a world where love is magical, and that’s exactly what Kat Coiro’s new film “Marry Me” provides.
Based on the graphic novel by Bobby Crosby, it’s a tale of a pop superstar and a math teacher coming together under strange circumstances and falling in love. Yes, there are similarities to “Notting Hill” (a film that is undoubtedly in the Hall of Fame for rom-coms), but much of the film’s fun is due to the music and dance performances delivered by its ultra-talented leading lady. It’s been a while since we’ve had a rom-com from a major studio released theatrically, and this is one that definitely lends itself well to the big screen.
Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) has it all: A prospering pop career, millions of fans, lots of brand deals on social media, and a loving fiancé. The film opens with its titular song, hopping between social media and news coverage of Kat and her fiancé, Bastian (Maluma), as they prepare for their upcoming wedding on stage during their concert at Madison Square Garden. Lopez’s great charisma carries much of the film, as she makes Kat enduringly likable and earnest despite her pampered lifestyle. “Marry Me” is full of JLo songs and dance sequences, each one more fun than the last, and “On My Way,” in particular, is a standout number. While the role isn’t a stretch for her, she does have several heartfelt moments that are a great reminder that she is a great actress when given a chance.
Kat’s life is planned out perfectly by her very supportive manager, Collin (John Bradley), and all seems to be on track…Until she meets Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson). He’s a math teacher and a single dad trying to prove to his daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman) that he’s fun. She’s embarrassed to be seen with him at school, and he’s struggling with the fact that she’s growing up. Refreshingly, it’s an excellent representation for single dads, as Charlie’s narrative is absent of any day-to-day struggles of caring for his child, and there’s no drama with his ex-wife.
When the school guidance counselor, Parker Debbs (Sarah Silverman), goes through a breakup with her girlfriend, she offers Charlie and Lou her extra tickets to come with her to Kat and Bastian’s big concert, and though Charlie has little interest in the singers, he knows it’s a chance to look cool to his daughter. A video of Bastian cheating with Kat’s assistant surfaces online just before the wedding – being watched by millions of viewers – and Kat bares her soul to the crowd. She delivers a monologue about love before picking a man from the audience to marry instead of Bastian: Charlie.
Charlie’s happy to help Kat out in the moment but is reluctant to continue as it gets more complicated; however, Kat thinks that it would make her look worse to cancel the marriage immediately, so they decide to do a series of press appearances together. The more time the pair spends together, the more a real connection forms between them.
In the beginning, Charlie doesn’t take Kat or her job seriously, but she wins his respect by helping out the students on his math team, including Lou, with their confidence. As a couple, they have a great influence on each other. Charlie challenges Kat to be more self-sufficient and do things without the team of people who normally run her life, while she gets him to loosen up and not be so set in his ways. It’s very sweet watching them fall for each other and find a way to bend their lives to accommodate the other person.
The film is admittedly full of its genre’s clichés, and the screenplay by John Rogers, Tami Sagher, and Harper Dill isn’t anything special. They attempt to make somewhat of a statement about how the media treats celebrities (with Jimmy Fallon even appearing as himself, making jokes about Kat’s marriage on television), but it’s nothing profound. What makes this film so watchable is the comfort with which Lopez and Wilson play their roles and how fun it is to see them bond with each other and grow from strangers to friends to lovers.
“Marry Me” was filmed in October and November of 2019 and originally slated to release in February 2021; however, it hasn’t suffered from being pushed back in the way that other films have. Instead, it’s perhaps an even more appropriate time for its release, with both Lopez and Wilson receiving much media attention. Wilson had a good 2021 between appearing as fan-favorite Mobius on the “Loki” television series and having a small role in his buddy Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch.” Meanwhile, Lopez has made headlines for her rekindled relationship with Ben Affleck, her acclaimed (should’ve been Oscar-nominated) performance in “Hustlers” and has two more films being released in 2022. With the renaissance both Lopez and Wilson are having right now, “Marry Me” is proof that it’s well-deserved. The film may not be one of the best rom-coms ever made and surely won’t be one of the top films of 2022, but it’s precisely the sort of light-hearted entertainment that it’s aiming to be.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Jennifer Lopez brings a lot of charisma to the lead role, and it’s the sort of fluffy, light romance that makes for an easy watch.
THE BAD – It’s full of clichés and completely unbelievable with a mediocre script.
THE OSCAR PROSPECTS – Best Original Song