If you, like me, have been bombarded by ads for Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson’s latest rom-com Marry Me and subsequently have the lowest of expectations, I hate to say it…but you can probably listen to your intuition.
Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Bobby Crosby, which I am surely precisely a handful of people knew was an inspiration for this film, Marry Me tells the story of Kat Valdez (Lopez), a world-famous pop singer expected to marry her musical boyfriend Bastian (Maluma, in his acting debut), in a concert to be streamed worldwide to millions of people.
Then there’s Charlie (Wilson), a divorced single father working as a math teacher and trying to connect with his daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman). School guidance counsellor Parker (Sarah Silverman) convinces Charlie and Lou to come to the concert and prove that he is a fun and cool dad who…attends concerts. Eventually holding a “Marry Me” sign to the show, through a bonkers turn of events, Charlie is called on stage to marry Kat in front of millions.
From here this utterly insane story only gets crazier when they agree to keep up the relationship for six months, as Kat score positive reactions for her PR stunts and Charlie receives a grant for his school. And that’s just the first quarter of the film! To say Marry Me requires suspension of belief to the nth degree is the understatement of the year. A celebrity marrying a strange on live television and continuing the facades for several months despite not knowing anything about each other really is nuts.
Beyond the set-up, Marry Me has moments of comedy and genuine emotion but unfortunately, they are too far and few between. Lopez’s involvement as a producer in the film feels present, as the backstory to Kat seems heavily based on her and in many scenes, feels like a mouthpiece for her own views on love and life. Screenwriters John Rogers, Tami Sagher and Harper Dill do a solid job of fleshing the characters out but still struggle to convince us why these two people would try something as drastic as marriage at first sight given their own failed relationships.
The use of social media on screen is jarring and at times Kat’s life feels like an imagined version of what a celebrity’s life is like. Tying the dread together is the constant product placement throughout that feels so unnecessary and lacks subtlety. If it’s a meditation on the sponsored lives of pop stars, director Kat Coiro misses the mark.
It’s ridiculous and has a smorgasbord of strange casting decisions that ultimately undermines the power of its actors. The best part of Wilson is lost in the character of Charlie, and unfortunately, there is no chemistry between the two, rather an unfolding story of friendship and connection. Silverman really shines with the best lines and the film could have done more with her to make it an enjoyable ride. Lopez seems entirely in her element, but the film as a whole lacks the magic of 2000’s rom coms she featured in.
Marry Me is reminiscent of the other music rom-com The High Note, with ok performances, directing and storytelling. Similar to The High Note the music is front and centre. Tunes from Lopez and Maluma are fun additions to the soundtrack but are too often repeated and seem like songs that would have been popular 10 years ago. That being said On My Way, Kat’s song to Charlie does hold strong.
What’s most frustrating about Marry Me is how, despite everything, it follows the rom-com formula to a tee, without any exciting diversions. By leaning so heavily into these frameworks, its predictability undermines the appeal of its stars. If you want a sweet film with an ending you can predict before it begins, Marry Me is for you. If you want something with a bit more heart or genuine joy, watch Maid in Manhattan.