At some point in Marry me, Jennifer Lopez’s Kat Valdez is described by her manager (John Bradley) as “north of 35”. I had to laugh. Yeah, way north of 35. (Join the club, sis.)
But seriously folks, let’s ditch the divine Mrs. Lopez. She still looks bright at 52. She always pours herself into tight stage costumes. Always dancing with the energy and elasticity of a teenager. And still delivering the kind of blandly entertaining, eminently re-watchable romantic comedies the market has so missed.
No, I’m not going to discuss that Marry me is a good movie. But in its own way it’s better than good, it’s exactly what we needed. Everyone has their movie version of comfort food and for many of us it’s a dying genre: the romantic comedy starring two real movie stars. One of those movie stars was often Lopez back then. (See also: Meg Ryan, Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts.) In this film, her co-star is the always affable Owen Wilson.
The premise is so far-fetched that the words “Just Go With It” might as well flash across the screen. Lopez’s Kat is a world famous recording artist, not entirely unlike J-Lo herself. She is about to get married on stage to her lothario crooner boyfriend Bastian (Maluma). It’s the social media event of the year and tickets to the show are in short supply.
We can see right away that Kat has her doubts about the whole thing; she says she wishes she and Bastian could do it all over again and just have a little private ceremony. He scoffs at the idea. He is delighted with this highly public affair, perhaps a little too delighted.
Just as Kat sings the (undeniably catchy) song “Marry Me,” a chuckle runs through the Madison Square Garden crowd. Page Six has photos of Bastian kissing Kat’s assistant. Kat snatches her manager’s phone, sees the photos, and is devastated. She grabs the mic, turns the music down, and turns up the lights in the house.
Now here’s the part I didn’t quite understand. Kat gives a self-reflection speech about trying something new, not repeating old mistakes (she’s been divorced three times). And with that in mind, she points to an unsuspecting father in the crowd holding his daughter’s “marry me” sign. “Okay,” Kat said. “I’m going to marry you.”
That dad is divorced Charlie Gilbert (Wilson), a math teacher who struggles to convince his 12-year-old daughter Lou (Chloe Gilbert) that he isn’t tragically boring. As the crowd sings cheers, he stumbles onto the stage and slips through the ceremony that was meant for Bastian.
If there is one thing Marry me goes well is the immediate reaction on social media when the concert is broadcast live.
“Who is it?” reads a message.
“WTF? reads another.
“What is happening?” said a third.
Afterwards, Charlie is quickly ushered backstage where Bastian rages at Kat that she “married some random albino guy on stage!” (He h)
The next steps seem obvious: Kat and Charlie should split up and have the wedding annulled (if it mattered to begin with; the officiant referred to Charlie as “that guy” during the ceremony).
But not so fast! “Just Go With It” sign number two. Kat wants to stay married to Charlie, at least for a month or so, until the scandal explodes. A few public appearances together and then they can say they parted as friends. (Of course, a could argue that it is a sly commentary on the types of publicist-arranged relationships in which celebrities, including J-Lo herself, have been accused of participating.)
Well, we all know where this is taking us: Charlie and Kat are slowly starting to fall in love. She goes to her mathletes practice and explains to the kids that dancing is a surefire way to unwind if you’re mentally stuck. She surprises Charlie by closing an amusement park – the source of a precious childhood memory for him – and takes him there for his birthday. They listen to show tunes together. They dance. “Is it presumptuous of me to assume that I’m about to have the best night of my life?” Charlie said before kissing her.
It’s a damn good thing that Wilson is such a lovely guy because, as written, Charlie is a bit of a judge. He scolds Kat for falling into old bad habits when she plans to take a trip to Puerto Rico to meet Bastian. And later, he encourages her to spend a day without assistants: no one to make her smoothies, drive her, organize her life. (Man, if you could afford to have assistants all day, you’d have them, too.) Still, Wilson and Lopez have undeniable chemistry—you got their backs, which is about all you need to that kind of thing works.
To see, Marry me is not Notting Hillthe not ultra of “regular schmo with celebrities” films. But it does the job. And I have to say, for women like me who are north of 35 (ahem), it’s nice to have our moment in the romantic comedy spotlight, too.
Marry me now playing in theaters and streaming on Peacock.