Film Review – Marry Me
The premise of Marry Me (2022) is utterly preposterous. Global music icon Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) and her fiancé Bastian (Maluma) plan to exchange vows during a lavish concert in front of their adoring fans. When Kat discovers Bastian has been unfaithful, she suffers what can only be described as “an extreme lapse of judgment.” Alone on stage and in shock, Kat does the first impulsive thing she can think of: pick a random stranger from the crowd and marry them right on the spot. The lucky person she chooses is Charlie (Owen Wilson), a single dad and math teacher who just happens to be holding a sign that says “Marry Me.” He gets swept up onstage and – against all rationality – agrees to the nuptials.
Wow. It’s not a stretch to say that romantic comedies have never been associated with reality, that’s why so many of them take on a fairytale-like tone. But this is pushing it a little too far, isn’t it? Directed by Kat Coiro and written by Harper Dill and John Rogers (based on Bobby Crosby’s graphic novel) the film takes the theme of “opposites attract” to extreme measures. We’re meant to believe that a superstar celebrity marrying an Average Joe on a whim is not only conceivable, but rife for romance. I suppose this isn’t too far-fetched, Notting Hill (1999) pretty much did the same thing. But it’s the circumstances of this couple’s Meet-Cute that is tough to sell. What if Kat chose a creep or someone who’s already married? Why would Charlie say yes to a complete stranger? These are the actions of people who – in any other context – would probably have serious personal issues. Yet we’re supposed to accept the spontaneity of it like it’s no big deal. There is some major dream logic going on here.
Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson make for an odd pairing. Their demeanors mesh in an awkward, slightly clumsy way, which might very well be the point. The fact that their onscreen personas are so different is a central aspect of their relationship. Kat is meant to open Charlie up to new experiences and take chances, while Charlie helps Kat see the world devoid of assistants, touring, and public appearances. Of course, most of these examples are seen from a surface level only. Kat gets Charlie to step out of his comfort zone by having him join social media. In return, Charlie teaches Kat how to be self-sufficient by…showing her how to use a blender. Not exactly the most penetrating character development, is it?
That’s not to say the two aren’t game for their roles, because they are. This especially true for Wilson, who plays Charlie with a “Gee Golly” attitude that comes off as endearing. He has a Mr. Deeds quality about him, in the way he gets pulled into a lifestyle he is completely unprepared for. In contrast, Lopez brings energy and enthusiasm to Kat, even though she is playing a heightened version of herself. Kat is constantly on the go – performing in large venues, traveling the world at a moment’s notice, and having her life recorded at all times. I imagine this isn’t too unlike Lopez’s real life. When Kat performs her hit songs on stage or walks down the red carpet in front of flashing cameras, we gather that this is Lopez operating within her natural element.
Speaking of which, if you are a fan of J-Lo’s music, then you are going to be more than satisfied here. The writing and direction leave plenty (and I mean plenty) of opportunity for Lopez to feature her musical talents. Not only do we see her perform her original songs on stage, but we hear them on the soundtrack, see her sing them in the recording studio, watch as background performers cover them – on and on and on. The songs are featured from the beginning all the way to the closing credits. Kat performs on stage so often that this could be mistaken for a concert film. The title song “Marry Me” is repeated constantly, hammered into our collective memory.
Watching a cast work together and having fun does go a long way in terms of entertainment. In this case, all the participants appear to be enjoying themselves, which give the scenes a nice upbeat feeling. John Bradley and Sarah Silverman join in as Kat’s assistant and Charlie’s friend, respectively. Both operate as handlers for our protagonists, looking out for their best interests and guiding them whenever help is needed. Chloe Coleman turns in a fine performance as Charlie’s daughter, Lou. Lou is a normal kid, still trying to find herself even though her nerdy dad is now recognized by paparazzi. Regardless of whatever missteps there are narratively, at the very least the cast came in fully committed to the material.
There is a scene about halfway through where Kat and Charlie have a conversation over the phone. The two flirt in an organic, easy way. Charlie tells Kat to call him whenever she feels lonely, to which she calls him back almost immediately. It’s this small, almost throwaway moment that hints at the characters’ deeper connection. When the two are allowed to stop, breathe, and interact with one another is when things are working at a high point. However, the production dashes that by reverting back to the glitz and glamor, Tik Tok videos, musical performances, and – for whatever reason – a recurring cameo from Jimmy Fallon. Heaven forbid these two actually have the time to fall in love.
Marry Me is the kind of romantic comedy that already has a built-in fan base. Fans of the genre – and to a larger degree, fans of Jennifer Lopez – will already be geared into seeing this. Those that are not will probably not see it anyway. As it stands, it is completely and totally fine. It’s a safe, inoffensive, and predictable story that does exactly what it sets out to do. Whether that is a good or bad thing will depend entirely on the viewer.