From: Silver Screen

REVIEW: ‘Marry Me’ is so busy trying to impart a message it forgets it’s a rom-com

REVIEW: ‘Marry Me’ is so busy trying to impart a message it forgets it’s a rom-com
(from left) Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) and Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) in Marry Me, directed by Kat Coiro.

While not without its redeeming qualities, “Marry Me” fails to be a convincing love story by spending too much time trying to rectify the mistakes of rom-coms past and forgetting it’s supposed to be a love story itself. 

“Marry Me” is loosely based on an Internet comic by Bobby Crosby and follows mega star Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez), who discovers seconds before a wedding ceremony that will be televised to millions, that her fiance, Bastion (Maluma), cheated on her. In a moment of crazed desperation, Kat picks a random man named Charlie (Owen Wilson) from the crowd and marries him instead. Scattered hilarity then ensues.

For a film targeted toward mature audiences, “Marry Me” often feels like a kids movie with its painfully obvious moral messaging. The leads often impart stilted pieces of wisdom that are so pointed it's hard not to choke on them. 

Lopez injects some authenticity into Kat, especially when discussing the perils of being a celebrity, but overall, her character desperately lacks depth. Kat is so busy trying to convey important sentiments about feminism, the public’s obssesion with celebrities and optimism that it’s difficult to view her as a fully-fledged person. Her inspiring backstory is given a lot of lip service by the rest of the characters, but she never gets a chance to discuss it on her own terms. 

Wilson’s Charlie, on the other hand, is slightly better fleshed out. Still, Wilson is far more convincing as a father figure than a romantic lead; even when he’s trying to be charmingly challenging, he comes off as a stern lecturer. When he’s not acting as a father, Charlie is largely unimpressive and cringe-worthy. Is it supposed to be charming when he mansplains bowling to Kat? It’s hard to see why Kat falls in love with him, except that he represents a drastic departure from the rest of her life. This dynamic isn't a stable basis for a relationship. 

To make matters worse, WIlison and Lopez lack any semblance of romantic chemistry, seeming more like best friends than lovers even in their most passionate moments. 

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“Marry Me” does bring some fresh ideas to the table when it comes to rom-coms, though. In one scene, characters question if love should even be their ultimate goal. But such moments are undermined when they give into self-referential rom-com tropes. Seriously, we all need to let go of the “Love, Actuallyplacards. For a film so obviously intended to challenge the history of its genre, “Marry Me” spends an inordinate amount of time directly referencing its predecessors, making scenes meant to come off as sweepingly romantic feel stale. 

However, the movie does have its redeeming qualities. For once, the diverse characters feel natural rather than inserted to fulfill a quota or soothe an audience. Lopez and Maluma’s conversations in Spanish feel completely natural, drawing a stark contrast to her past romantic roles where her Latina identity was completely ignored or erased. The film’s greatest triumph is its restrained and poignant celebration of diversity. 

Another strong point is the soundtrack: a soaring collection of glitzy pop that makes you want to bob your head along and hum the chorus for the rest of the day. These tunes create the most believable idea of the entire film: that Kat was able to create a musical empire on her own. The songs, written and performed by Lopez and Maluma, are lyrically enticing and playful and make themselves the highlight of the film. 

“Marry Me” accomplishes exactly what it sets out to by fixing some of the most egregious oversights of classic rom-coms. But it fails to create a compelling narrative or lasting love story of its own. 

“Marry Me” was released in theaters and was available to stream on Peacock on Feb. 11.

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