Directed by: Kat Coiro
Written by: John Rogers, Tami Sagher, Harper Dill
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, John Bradley, Sarah Silverman, Chloe Coleman
Released: February 10, 2022
Grade: C+

Marry Me

It was released more than 20 years ago but Notting Hill remains one of my all-time favourite romantic comedies.  A world-famous American film star played by Julia Roberts fell in love with a nerdish British bookstore owner played by Hugh Grant.  Yes, it was formulaic and yes, it was a fanciful storyline… but the actions of the characters and the dialogue between them still felt believable. There were also humorous, memorable set pieces such as the sequence where she attends his sister’s birthday party and is introduced to friends and family.

Marry Me takes the same idea and tells it today’s social-media-loving world.  One of the world’s biggest music stars, Kat Valdez (Lopez), enters into a relationship with a softly spoken school math teacher, Charlie Gilbert (Wilson).  How they meet is borderline farcical.  Kat was set to marry a famous musician but after learning of his infidelity just minutes before the wedding (he’d hooked up with her assistant), she randomly/impulsively picks Charlie from the crowd at the concert-turned-wedding and away they go (part of a clumsy theme about being impuslive).

While Notting Hill made it look so effortless, Marry Me is mishmash of scenes that lack credibility and coherency.  I don’t mind the pairing of Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson.  The best scenes in the film are during the middle act when they finally start talking like normal people about normal things – such as their past relationships and the troubles Charlie has connecting with his tween daughter (Coleman).  These moments are fleeting though.  Everything else is so over-the-top and contrived with an emphasis on the plot points used to create tension between the pair.

The film’s biggest issue is the characterisation of Kat.  It’s clearly trying to paint her as some feel-sorry-for-me victim who, despite singing about it non-stop for her whole career, is only now discovering what love is all about.  It’s hard to feel that much sympathy for someone who lives in a luxurious New York apartment and whose major grievances are being overlooked for a Grammy nomination and being joked about on late night talk shows.  She may have convinced “hard hitting” journalists at a press conference (another unrealistic scene) but I couldn’t buy into it.

Further, it’s not like she’s being led astray by villainous assistants and executives.  They’re all portrayed as likeable, reasonable people.  Kat created her own empire, complete with adoring fans and 80 million Instagram followers, but because of this weird midlife crisis, she now isn’t sure she wants to sit on the throne.

Attempts to create humour fall flat.  There’s a brief interlude where, on Charlie’s suggestion, Kat tries to “fend for herself” for a brief period and not rely on her small army of support staff.  So how does it pan out?  She goes to her multi-million-dollar waterfront holiday home and doesn’t have the keys for the front door.  Oh no!  When she tries to make a fruit juice in the kitchen, it ends in a large mess after she forgets to put the lid on the blender.  Really?  That’s the best joke the writers could come up with?  Don’t get me started on the rushed finale (did stuff get left on the cutting room floor?) and the poorly conceived school math team competition.

With a release coinciding with Valentine’s Day, Marry Me may entertain rom-com loving audiences (‘tis the season) but for everyone else, it’s another forgettable, formulaic entrant in a tired genre.