There is definitely a shortage of comedies that can actually be viewed in movie theaters these days, but "Marry Me" acts as a cautionary tale of being careful what you wish for.
Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson are likeable and enduring, but "Marry Me" is an excruciatingly corny, unfunny rom-com that makes "Gigli" look like "When Harry Met Sally."
Even in the realm of fantastical romantic-comedies, the mere premise of "Marry Me" takes a monumental effort of suspending our beliefs and senses. Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) is a huge pop-star who is about to marry an equally big pop-star, Bastian (the Columbian singer/star, Maluma). This is huge news if you are TMZ or a late night talk show (Jimmy Fallon appears more than once to quip about the faux celebrity couple). The duo has even written a number one hit song, titled "Marry Me," and at a massive concert (with over 20 million people watching worldwide), they are set to get married on an epic, global stage.
But literally seconds before the two are to be wed, paparazzi break the story - with video evidence - that Bastian has recently been unfaithful...with Kat's assistant no less. A distraught and shattered Kat Valdez shuns Bastian in front of the world, before locking eyes with a regular Joe out in the audience, who happens to be holding a "Marry Me" sign. Spiraling, Kat takes this literally, invites him up on stage and the two become one.
This man from the audience is Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), a lame math teacher who didn't even know who Kat Valdez was, but attended the concert to impress his daughter, Lou (Chloe Coleman). He's egged on by his friend, the school's counselor and the film's "whacky friend" comic relief, Parker (Sarah Silverman). Game of Throne's alum John Bradley shows up as Kat's manager, and as the film slowly climaxes with a "Mathalon" contest (for real), Utkarsh Ambudkar appears as a rival math coach.
"Marry Me" is the sort of "comedy" that isn't all that funny...you may smile at the cheese of it all, but there are few real laughs, if any. The outlandish premise aside - even if you are clamoring to buy into this unlikely romance - involves no one that is even remotely realistic or human. We are to believe that Kat Valdez can't find a good man? Or that she has become this massive pop sensation by somehow being completely pure of heart, body, mind and spirit...never buying in to the superficial world in which she's become an icon?
The only thing that feels "real" about the movie is the constant presence of kids - and some adults - constantly pointing their phones and recording things to social media. The movie uses a faithfully annoying technique of showing multiple phone screens on-screen at once, showing comments, likes and shares and pounding us over the head that this is a super-star's life in action.
The movie features several original songs by Jennifer Lopez, some of which are very catchy, and for what it's worth both she and Wilson do a fine job...it's just that they are being asked to play unrealistic people, in an unrealistic setting, behaving in unrealistic ways. What happened to rom-coms where we actually are rooting for the couple, where we see ourselves - flaws and all- in the people on-screen? "Marry Me" never does anything more than that initial interesting concept: What if a pop star actually married someone from their audience?
"Marry Me" wants to be different but uses every trope in the book...it works better as a father/daughter story than it does a romance between two adults, and much would be forgiven if the film was in fact funny. Like, at all.
Look, this isn't the first Valentine's Day weekend where a sub-par rom-com has been released as a date-night trap on unsuspecting audiences. There isn't much competition out there in theaters, and it will do most guys good to take their date to "Marry Me" instead of to "Spider-Man: No Way Home."
But then again, if you really love the one you're with, you may want to propose any other option than watching this fluffy bit of nonsense.
Genre: Romance, Comedy.
Run Time: 1 hour 52 minutes.
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, John Bradley, Sarah Silverman, Chloe Coleman, Maluma, Utkarsh Ambudkar.
Directed by Kat Coiro ("A Case of You," "And While We Were Here," "Life Happens").
"Marry Me" is in theaters on Friday, February 11th, 2022.
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