Marry Me (2022)

KAT COIRO

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

/USA, 2022. , , , , . Screenplay by , , , based on the graphic novel by . Cinematography by . Produced by , , , John Rogers. Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by , . Film Editing by , .

A valiant attempt is made to rescue the romantic comedy formula from the obscurity into which it has fallen of late: gone are the days when you could head to a movie theatre at any time of year to find Meg Ryan, Drew Barrymore or Jennifer Aniston experiencing the coup de foudre under ridiculously glamorous circumstances, now it’s saving the genre from the Hallmark hell that it has been relegated to, holding up its conventions like Atlas with his burden, including among her efforts that favourite of rom-com spur-of-the-moment stunts, the near-hijacking of a plane.

Lopez plays a world-famous singer whose life falls apart in a very public manner when the televised event that she planned as both a concert and her wedding with fellow singer (who is, it should be pointed out with unreserved delight, twenty-five years younger than her) doesn’t go according to plan. Right before steeping into the spotlight, she sees footage that has just gone viral of her fiancé getting dirty with her assistant, and standing alone on a stage in a wedding dress but with no groom, Lopez has a mini-psychic meltdown before making a spur of the moment decision. Spotting a man in the audience holding a “Marry Me” sign, she decides to take him up on the offer despite having no idea who he is.

The stranger with whom she performs a full nuptial ceremony before getting his name is, actually, a plucky, good-natured grade school teacher played by , who came to the concert because his colleague and friend had tickets, and was only holding the “Marry Me” sign for her while she and his adorable daughter took pictures of the show. Wilson’s congenial nature sees him going through with the stunt to help out a woman he believes is in crisis, after which his life becomes a whirlwind of paparazzi and social media frenzy thanks to his agreeing to continue the gag as a way to help the singer save face, in return accepting financial help for the math program that he runs at his school. The time the “couple” spend together makes them friendly, but in a surprise twist (such a surprise twist) it turns to a real romance that is then threatened when she begins to soften up to the idea of forgiving the man who jilted her and who, quite frankly, makes far more sense to her daily pace of life.

The formula is well in place here, beginning with the highly contrived meet-cute, the chaste but exciting development of their relationship (where wealth is celebrated to avoid thinking about sex), the preposterously weak reason to drive them apart (which is specifically designed to be enviable when compared with life’s real problems), and the public reconciliation. The problem here is that the formula is formulaic and the couple don’t entirely make sense, both Lopez and Wilson are appealing and admirable in their own way but the Opposites Attract vibe we’re supposed to get from their unlikely pairing never quite ignites.

Lopez is, as always, confident and commanding but, as with most of her film roles, she refuses to ever let us see a vulnerable side that doesn’t feel wholly manufactured for a response, something that only works when the characters she is playing have this intentionally as part of their narrative (Out of Sight, Hustlers). Wilson’s schoolteacher has a lack of toxic ego that goes well with the actor’s charmingly rambling style of delivery, but there’s never enough of a flaw there to make him seem like a real blood-and-guts person, it’s nice that he doesn’t make everything about himself (even when he has the right to) but it’s hard to imagine him having much of an issue with whether or not the two of them end up together.

Moments of the film betray a compromised budget, such as the opening concert that looks like an airport lobby is being passed off as the Staples Centre, but that’s not nearly as cheap a concession as the couple we’re asked to invest in, who never really seem like they need to happen. The soundtrack is a lot of fun, full of some tuneful pop songs by both Lopez and her Colombian co-star, who avoids embarrassing himself in his first major acting role by making not the slightest effort to do more than say his lines from behind his one facial expression.

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