The romantic comedy is constantly in trouble. Even when there are moments where several entertaining ones are released there is always the risk that it is a dying genre that doesn’t stay with the times. Audiences uses the term “guilty pleasures” to make excuses for enjoying these types of films but this still creates a negative meaning behind the term. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being swept away by two people following in love during situations that can only seem real in the movies. However, this still remains the one genre that many still feel has too much sense of disbelief, even in a time when we have movies giving us multiverses, sandworms, and whatever Lady Gaga was doing in House of Gucci. So maybe this is why when the queen of romantic comedies herself, Jennifer Lopez decides to return it is impossible not to welcome her with open arms. We need these types of films and Lopez is here to have us fall back in love all over again.
The premise of Kat Coiro’s charmer Marry Me may seem strange, but nothing is more peculiar than discovering the script was adapted from a 2020 graphic novel. It’s a fun little antedote that also holds a reminder that love can come from all sorts of strange little places. This time love starts with mega pop star Kat Valdez (Lopez), who is about to wed her also super famous popstar Bastian (real life singer Maluma in his first live action role) in front of a live audience and the millions of people streaming at home. It is a gigantic profession of love that much like in today’s world will attract all her fans as well as be thrust upon people who could give a damn. One of those “could give a damn” people is sweet souled math teacher Charlie (Owen Wilson adorable as ever). Charlie attends Kat’s wedding concert with his daughter (Chloe Coleman) and coworker Parker (Sarah Silverman) and when Kat find’s out that Bastian cheated, her moment of love turns into despair, which only leaves Charlie to become her saving grace, even if he doesn’t quite realize his own actions. While the idea of a popstar marrying a total stranger in the middle of her concert may seem strange it is a storyline that the script is able to make relevant using today’s social media obsessed celebrities and allows the audience to realize that yes, something like this could easily happen today. It is this take on fame that actually makes the film carry its strongest moments. It also helps when you have Jenifer Lopez playing an alternative version of herself that isn’t all that too far off.
Kat’s day is hectic and full of social media posting requirements, but she never lets her new (possibly fake) husband Charlie forget that she is self-efficient and has always had to work to be recognized. Yes, this is speaking volumes to the thousands of critics of Lopez’s long career. Lopez is a megastar in herself but when it comes to her film career, she has always had to fight harder than most for respect. Whether it be 2019’s huge Oscar snub for Hustlers or the very fact that she has given a voice to Latin women in the rom com genre with Maid in Manhattan, The Wedding Planner and even Monster in Law (underrated!) Lopez continues to try and prove herself when in reality she shouldn’t have to. This energy allows the film to not be just a promotional piece for new music, but instead allow Valdez’s/Lopez’s songs to be properly fit into the script and for a character that fits the rom-com check marks of watching someone grow with love’s help.
The love’s help is where the film uses Charlie as it’s moments to not ignore tropes of other romantic comedies, but instead lean into them with grace. Charlie needs to connect with his daughter, and Kat can help with that. Charlie needs to loosen up, and yes Kat can help with that. It’s obvious to see where this is going, but that doesn’t make the trip any less enjoyable. Owen Wilson as Charlie brings that same innocence that Lopez used in her earlier films. In fact, most of Marry Me is just a fun gender reversal of Lopez’s previous works, and Wilson is more than up to the task. Wilson is used to playing the straight man in a comedy, but here he is on full dad mode that allows him to just play for soft laughs, but also make you swoon anytime those good natured dad moments come out. Wilson and Coleman’s chemistry feels natural and a nice look at what it is to be a kid and still love your parents even if you are at that age of moving away from them mentally and emotionally. Yes, Kat is a big help in bringing them closer, but Coleman and Wilson do a great job at being the final key to bind their relationship. But this is a rom-com after all so through everything its main reliance comes down to Wilson and Lopez connecting. Thankfully that is not an issue from the moment these two are on screen. Lopez’s mega stardom never overshadows Wilson and in return Wilson never makes it unbelievable that a pop sensation can fall for a normal average person. Fame may keep them in separate worlds but every moment Kat and Charlie share it is clear that they are creating their own universe and everyone else fades away. There is always the feeling that people can tell when a singer is singing just for them, well this time it carries a new meaning when Kat sings to the entire world and Charlie looks onto her and truly sees that it is just the two of them. The super famous falling for average joe may be redundant but Coiro knows this only works when we can see that even celebrities can tune everyone else out when it comes to love. If the film finds itself falling into too familiar of areas towards its end it is brought back by the addition of a handful of new songs. Some are catchy others are forgettable but leave it to Lopez to already start next year’s “best original song” campaign with the heartwarming ballad “On My Way.” Much like the film the song is a reminder of why Lope is so good at what she does. Even through all the fame when you strip everything away you are still left with a talent that is unprecedent. She and the entire film is a perfect Valentine’s day treat and a reminder that yes even the rom-com deserves all the love we can give.
MARRY ME is currently playing in theaters and streaming on Peacock