Based on the graphic novel by the same name, Marry Me starts to tell the story of pop superstar Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) and boyfriend Bastian (played by Latin singing star Maluma), who plan to have a joint concert that will also double as their wedding, turning it into a massive social media affair.
When Kat finds out that Bastian cheated on her, at the most inopportune time, she catches the eye of math teacher Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), who has tagged along to the concert with his co-worker Parker (played by Sarah Silverman) and to impress his young daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman) who thinks he’s a boring guy. He’s holding the film’s titular sign and meet cute turns into ‘I now pronounce you husband and wife’ in an instant.
When Marry Me was filmed in late 2019, Lopez was once again one of the biggest stars in the world, coming off a career best performance in Hustlers, receiving legitimate Oscar buzz – where she would eventually be snubbed by the time the nominations came around. Wilson, on the other hand, was in a bit of an acting rut as this was filmed before his Marvel Cinematic Universe role as Mobius M. Mobius in Loki and two years since his last meaningful performance in 2017’s Wonder.
Wilson and Lopez have so much natural charisma as performers that you could just put a camera in a room with the two of them and something exciting or charming will happen. While Wilson’s performance is good and he was game for anything, it was Jennifer Lopez that stole the show. Likely riding the high from her Hustlers performance, Lopez was magnetic in this film in every aspect. She gives as much of a performance to her dramatic scenes in this movie as she did in her comedic ones, showing that what she was able to pull off in Hustlers and way back in Out of Sight weren’t flukes. On top of the film’s title song, Lopez sings several new, original numbers throughout the film, setting herself up for a likely soundtrack hit. Lopez’s Kat is a perfect sendup of pop star personas but never veers into satire, and the Grammy-nominated songstress meets the challenge.
Marry Me really shouldn’t have worked in 2022, it feels like a Sandra Bullock rom-com from 20 years ago, but director Kat Coiro – who will be directing Marvel’s upcoming She Hulk TV series – brings an intimate touch to this film in a way that elevates it past all of the cringe and absurdities. This story is something that every person around the world who has a “celebrity crush” wants to believe would happen; they would see a celebrity in person, and they would fall head over heels for them. The idea that a mega pop superstar will just look down into the crowd and agree to marry any average joe, and for that specific person to wind up being a genuinely good person is hard to believe, but the movie works because Coiro makes it believable. Sticking close to the formula of those high gimmick rom-coms of the early 2000’s, Marry Me leans into its absurd plot of chance and love ends up being the film’s strength.
Coiro, with a script by Harper Dill, John Rogers and Tami Sahger, leans into is the social media element of such a publicly consumed relationship, providing insight into what’s real and what’s perception in both the lives we see online and the lives they actually live. When Charlie and Kat are shown through internal cameras, there is a façade that is put on by the both of them; Charlie is uncomfortable, and Kat has to make sure her image is presentable. It is interesting seeing the difference through multiple lenses, and Coiro manages to find a balance that shows what the two are like when they are not being filmed, and in these moments are when we get to see their love fully grow.
For how charming Lopez and Wilson are, and how stylized Coiro makes the film, it does adhere maybe a little too close to the basic formula of what a rom-com is ‘supposed’ to be. The film could have dove deeper into the negative effects of stardom and the standards that have to be set to keep up your fan base, but instead glides over them. But if a formula works, it works and Marry Me is the feel-good lighthearted affair it sets out to be.
Marry Me is the first big surprise of 2022. A charming rom-com that is about finding love in the most unlikely of places. While it may follow the same formula this genre has to offer, and it runs a little long, that doesn’t stop it from being any less engaging and heartfelt.
Universal Pictures will release Marry Me in theaters and streaming on Peacock Friday, February 11.
Photo: Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures