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Marry Me is a middling return to the rom-com for Jennifer Lopez

In a throwback to Lopez's early rom-coms, Lopez falls for a homely teacher, portrayed by Owen Wilson, in this Valentine's Day treat

By Daisy Nash, MA, History

Based on the outlandish novel by Bobby Crosby, Marry Me follows the (initially) separate lives of Kat Valdez and Charlie Gilbert, played by Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson. Kat is at the height of her fame; her singing career eclipsed only by her imminent “live” wedding to Bastian (introducing the immensely suave Maluma).

Their combined celebrity entices millions, and, in this way, Charlie’s life couldn’t be more different. As a divorced maths teacher with one daughter, his life is transformed by a reluctant ticket to Kat’s concert wedding.

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As with many Netflix-era productions, the plot is a little far-fetched. Kat’s discovery of Bastian’s infidelity, just as she begins her “wedding”, causes her to pick Charlie to take his place, to which he – somewhat unbelievably – quickly obliges.

The abrupt cut to their vows is a key example of what lets the first half down, projecting a fast-paced spontaneity that verges on the ridiculous. Coupled with the incessant emphasis on a social media outlook, the narrative becomes increasingly clunky, as the filming switches between close shots and a “live stream” screen. Even as a statement on modern society, its inclusion derails the storyline.

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Despite the cringe-worthy dialogue, Kat projects a sincerity that renders her instantly likeable – perhaps reflective of Lopez’s allusion to “playing herself”.

Lopez successfully portrays the untiring “zoo” of fame, bringing a surprising depth to a largely trivial narrative. Charlie’s “good guy” persona, although much acclaimed in Wilson’s previous ventures, is less alluring, with persistent attempts to highlight his integrity proving more jarring than enticing.

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Surprisingly, however, Lopez and Wilson’s chemistry continues to grow in the second half, building to some rare lighter-hearted moments. Charlie’s challenge to Kat to forgo her assistants and survive independently sees Lopez poke fun at her own privileged world while portraying an easy rapport that is cemented by a comparably low-key ending.

Away from the protagonists, the narrow personality of the ensemble is noticeable. Charlie’s daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman) becomes more demonstrative toward the end, but a ballsy teenage stereotype – “get your ass to the Gardens” – restricts her development. In a similar vein, despite best friend Parker’s loyalty, her character remains stuck in the “filler” role that plagues the rom-com enterprises.

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A modest mix of gentle romance and lukewarm relationships cements Marry Me’s position as an inoffensive late-night choice. Kat and Bastian’s tense performance of “Marry me” gave a glimpse of the spectacular, exemplifying Lopez’s natural charm in front of the camera.

Its later elements are what gives it an edge, presenting a film that, although not a must-see, could certainly provide a comforting background slide to an evening with the girls.

Featured Image: UPI Media

Will you be saying 'I Do' to Marry Me?