It may seem like romantic comedies may never go out of style, but in recent years there has been a definite shift. The type of cheesy, completely unrealistic rom-coms that were a staple of the late ’90s/early 2000s, in which Jennifer Lopez was often the primary
offender actor, have more often than not moved to places like the Hallmark Channel or Netflix.
But now J.Lo is back to try and prove that type of rom-com can still be a draw with Marry Me. And, boy, does it have a doozy of a premise: Kat Valdez (Lopez) is a superstar singer who’s on the verge of getting married to fellow superstar Bastian (Maluma) in perhaps the most public way possible: During a concert being streamed around the world where they will debut their new song, “Marry Me.”
Problem is, right as the big moment is about to happen, a video of Bastian cheating on Kat goes viral, and in a pique of sadness/temporary insanity, she picks a random guy, Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), out of the crowd and marries him instead. Neither is under any illusion that the spur-of-the-moment decision means anything … until a deluge of dual publicity appearances allows them to actually get to know each other.
Directed by Kat Coiro and written by Harper Dill, John Rogers, and Tami Sagher, the film is best watched with the knowledge that nothing in it makes sense. If a viewer is going to take even one minute of it seriously, he or she will suffer through the other 110 minutes. In an odd way, the film is so over-the-top and ridiculous that it reverses back on itself to become watchable for its ludicrous nature.
It also works for what it is because Kat — putting aside the extremely rash choice she makes — is not a damsel in need of rescue. She’s a powerful musician who knows how to make the most of her public image, even when it comes to marrying someone she doesn’t know. She has her fair share of vulnerable moments, but she never feels like someone who’s completely out of control or waiting on a man to solve her problems.
There’s also the idea that Lopez, after starring in rom-coms with conventionally handsome men like Matthew McConaughey and Richard Gere, is undeniably the more attractive person in a coupling with Wilson. Wilson has his charms, but the power dynamic is squarely in Lopez’s corner in this film. They don’t really work as a couple, but the conventions of the genre and some interesting story decisions make them appealing nonetheless.
It’s a good thing the film has those redeeming qualities, because it tries hard to get rid of that goodwill. The film often feels like just an excuse to be a showcase for a bunch of new J.Lo songs, with none of them sounding like hits. There is also an overload of product tie-ins scattered throughout the film, with many of them so egregious that an eye-roll is the only proper reaction.
J.Lo’s character is referred to as “north of 35” in the film, but the 52-year-old looks so good that she can pull off that preposterous statement. While there are other people in the film — in addition to Wilson and Maluma, it co-stars John Bradley from Game of Thrones and Sarah Silverman — Lopez is the shining beacon at the center who never loses the focus.
The majority of people who commit to watching Marry Me will know exactly what to expect, and the film does not disappoint in that respect. It’s not going to join the list of classic rom-coms, but that was never its goal.
Marry Me opens in theaters and debuts on Peacock on February 11.