Marry Me Never Really Ties the Knot
Marry Me screening provided by Universal
“…Marry Me tells a similar story to Notting Hill, but it is devoid of any real engagement with its star duo…”
What happens when you pair a stylish celebrities-celebrity with one of Hollywood’s most likeable actors? Kat Corio’s Marry Me (2022) seems to think it’s an unlikely match made in heaven, and on the surface the Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson led romantic comedy does feel that way. However, beyond the surface of likeability that comes with a film starring Lopez and Wilson, is a generic rom-com whose tied knot loosens the more the film chugs on.
The film revolves around pop superstar Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) who is about to get married to another pop superstar Bastian (Maluma) during their performance of their new duet, ‘Marry Me’. It isn’t until an untimely revelation that Bastian cheated on Kat surfaces, just before Kat hits the stage, that the whole plan is thrown out the window. Cue math teacher and overall good guy, Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) who is standing in the crowd with a ‘Marry Me!’ sign after being invited to the concert by friend and colleague Parker Graves (Sarah Silverman). The two characters lock eyes after Kat’s rousing speech on love and doing things differently, before she chooses Charlie like a wild Pokémon to spontaneously marry.
As far as romantic comedies go, Corio’s Marry Me is one that seems to have been pulled from the early 2000s rom-com archives and reimagined for a modern audience. This is especially true given that the films two leads —Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson— were at the forefront of those rom-coms earlier this century. But unlike some of the most celebrated romedies from the past 20 years, Marry Me falls short of capturing the same charm that films like Notting Hill (1999) and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) continue to provide years later.
Sarah Silverman, Chloe Coleman, and Owen Wilson in Marry Me
This might be owing to the fact that Marry Me tells a similar story to Notting Hill, but it is devoid of any real engagement with its star duo and their unlikely relationship. As the two characters play along with this odd arrangement, they unsurprisingly develop deeper feelings for one another.
Kat finds in Charlie a level of normalcy and obliviousness to her way of life that is enticing, while Charlie finds in Kat a more lively but also normal figure outside of the clear-cut, narrow life path he leads. As the film progresses, and the reality of the characters lives and situations begin to settle in, they face the uncertainty that has loomed over their spontaneous marriage to its full extent.
Notting Hill played out in a similar way, albeit that film was more grounded in its storytelling, choosing to focus on more subdued, intimate moments rather than the spectacle that comes with a cheating scandal, larger-than-life pop presence, and all the other pop culture references that are littered throughout Marry Me.
The two actors feel like they are on different wavelengths —which is the point of the film— but at times it it’s like they’re acting in two separate movies: that of a likeable high school teacher focusing on a mathalon and that of a famous pop star embroiled in a cheating scandal. It’s hard to hate anything Wilson is in though, as he plays his characters with such a level of charisma, that marrying a Latino pop star wouldn’t seem all that farfetched. Lopez on the other hand has an alluring, larger-than-life screen presence to the point where it is difficult to separate the person from the character.
The central relationship never feels fully realised though, and would have worked much better with a more focused script away from all of the noise of Instagram references and underwritten side characters. At times the film feels like a commercial for the next Jennifer Lopez album which is exacerbated by an item number around the films climax — ultimately further detracting from the engagement with Wilson and Lopez’s dynamic.
By the films closing sequence, the only aspect that felt real and believable was the idea that someone would walk out of a Jimmy Fallon show during the commercial break. Corio’s film does pose an interesting question: what if we just acted out of instinct and took a leap of faith in the hope of finding something real? Unfortunately, the answer Marry Me offers isn’t all that compelling.
Marry Me opens nationally from today, the 10th of February 2022.
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