MARRY ME falls into the category of mostly harmless. As a rom-com, it shadows its inspiration, NOTTING HILL, at a respectful distance in an exercise tailored to showcase its star/co-producer Jennifer Lopez as an actress and a singer fond of sparkly outfits. It’s bright, shiny, and no more serious than its premise of a superstar singer winding up married to an average Joe rather than her superstar singer boyfriend.
Lopez is the much-married Kat Valdez, who is about to embark on her next marriage to the hunky, much tattooed, Bastion (Maluma). This being showbiz, the wedding will take place at the end of the final concert in their current tour. Alas, just as Kat is about to be hydraulically lifted onto the stage to meet her groom, her koala-bear of a manager (John Bradley) shows her the video of Bastion’s recent make-out session with Kat’s assistant. Gobsmacked, she kicks Bastion to the curb and plucks that ci-mentioned average Joe out of the audience and marries him instead.
He’s Charlie Gilbert (Owen WIlson), a single father and a first-rate math teacher there in New York City. He also never heard of Kat Valdez until dragooned into attending the concert by his 12-year-old daughter, Lou (Chloe Coleman), and his best pal, the school guidance counselor Parker Debbs (Sarah Silverman). Social media goes wild, and rather than become the punch-line to even more jokes about her love life, Kat decides to stay married, at least for a few months, and see where it goes.
It goes about how all rom-coms go. The meet cute, the initial awkwardness, the moment of connection, and then the inevitable realization that they come from very, very different worlds. The film goes through all those paces without deviating from the norm. It’s all blather, but WIlson is adorable bumbling his way through Kat’s world of paparazzi and press conferences, while Lopez does her best Jenny-from-the-block playing a woman for whom being catered to at every turn hasn’t turned her into an egomaniac. She’s still looking for love to make her life complete, just like you or me, but with a better wardrobe and a full-time videographer. Silverman, as the requisite gay best friend, reins in her edginess just enough to fulfill that cookie-cutter role.
It’s that message about not being complete without a man that raises the mostly in mostly harmless. True, the script tries to work around that by giving Kat a speech to reporters about changing the rules so that the woman proposes to the man, who then has to prove himself, but the subtext smacks of the Cinderella Complex nonetheless.
Still, you can see why Kat would want someone like Charlie in her life after the glitz of relationships that are as much about hype as romance. Wilson’s trademark self-deprecating affability is irresistible, even if the character as written comes off as just a little too good to be true. This is a fairytale, after all, but with a few wrong, ahem, notes. Lopez’s turn at living in Charlie’s world, with full make-up and professional styling is less than convincing. True, it’s established that she did not grow up with money, but even if she wasn’t raised with small appliances, her daily posting about the wonders of a juicer/blender, the which she operates herself, should preclude her ignorance about putting the top on a blender before making a (non-broadcast) smoothie for her and her sweetie. It’s better, though still predictable, when she descends from the airy regions of extreme wealth and into the maelstrom of overbooked flights and hideously long waits for rideshares, using money to soften the rough edges without making then disappear altogether.
MARRY ME features great music by Ms. Lopez and Maluma, and the choreography for which her concerts are justly renowned. One is bemused by her appearance in a flesh-colored bodysuit as a dancing crucifix surrounded by Latex-clad nuns as backup dancers just before the planned wedding. Then again, this is the woman whose wardrobe has sometimes been the biggest, and most enduring legacy, of more than one awards show. It would be wrong if the wedding gown with 10,000 handsewn crystals were the most memorable outfit she wears. This is not high art. It’s cutesy and sweet and as unreal as the hairpiece that Kat removes at one point while on a date with Charlie.