Marry Me – Film Review
by David Turpin
Director – Kat Coiro
Writers – Harper Dill (screenplay by), Bobby Crosby (based on the graphic novel by), John Rogers(screenplay)
Stars – John Bradley, Jennifer Lopez, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Owen Wilson
After a fraught two years, anxious minds ponder what will become of the cinema. Will audiences ever return? Is the non-franchise film a thing of the past? These are hard times and in hard times, a true star doesn’t extrude an earnest biographical drama under several pounds of latex, or dress down for a paean to our shared humanity. She steps on the gas and gives us a show. Such a star – arguably the only one we still have – is Jennifer Lopez.
Behold, readers: Marry Me. The wisp of a narrative is drawn from a ‘graphic novel’ by Bobby Crosby (yes, this is a comic book movie), and if you’ve come for the story, well… Miss Lopez plays Kat Valdez, an international music superstar who plans to marry dreamboat duet-partner Bastian (Maluma) at the apex of an upcoming concert. Poor Kat is thrown for a loop when she discovers Bastian’s infidelity seconds before she is lifted on stage in an enormous wedding dress. So she does the only logical thing: she elects instead to marry endearingly awkward single father Charlie (Owen Wilson), who has accompanied his daughter to the show, and whom she has never met in her life. After the dry ice has cleared, Kat and Charlie decide to give this marriage thing a whirl, because otherwise there would be no film. Do life lessons, mild complications, and a happy ending ensue? You’re goddammed right they do.
If you’re looking for anything even approaching reality, you’d have been better off buying a ticket for Moonfall. As Jennifer Lopez vehicles go, this is substantially weirder than The Cell, if not quite as surpassingly surreal as Maid in Manhattan. Marry Me may take place in a world that gestures to the contemporary (too much of the dialogue is taken up with gabble about social media), but it may as well have been written by Charles Perrault in icing sugar. And praise be for that.
Throughout, the leading lady gamely mimics, plays upon, and makes light fun of her real-life persona. This is softened by the fact that Kat Valdez has none of the core of steel that must lie within a self-made goddess like the actual Jennifer Lopez. Further, the presumably considerable disparity in wealth between a star-like Kat and a maths teacher like Charlie is never remarked upon (though a surprising amount of the plot does revolve around maths). None of this matters. Lopez is so beautiful you want to burst into tears every time she’s on screen. She sings, she dances, she has a strong line in gently puzzled reactions, and she runs through an airport in high heels and a skin-tight sequined dress. What more could you want?
Owen Wilson is personable, playing the rumpled everyman – though it must be conceded that, in this company, Zeus himself would surely look like a rumpled everyman. In the supporting cast, Sarah Silverman fills the obligatory ‘wingman’ role with some enthusiasm, and Chloe Coleman is charming as the winsome daughter. Colombian star Maluma is a sight to behold, but his considerable presence evaporates every time he delivers a spoken line (though it must be said that he looks more at home here than he did having his foot licked by Madonna a couple of years ago).
Ain’t it funny? In truth, not massively so. But a romantic comedy such as this is less about hilarity than it is about achieving and sustaining a sense of lightness, even weightlessness. Mission accomplished: Marry Me is positively anti-gravitational. Why not float away with it?