After thriving during the mid-2000’s rom-com era, Jennifer Lopez is doing her best to bring back the mid-budget romance with her latest film, “Marry Me.”
Despite releasing in the year 2022, “Marry Me” brings back all of the must-haves from beloved rom-coms of days gone by: a ludicrous set up, an unlikely pairing, bliss, then sadness, then bliss again. It’s really all there.
Even in a sea full of familiarity, “Marry Me” almost feels like a fresh take. Nostalgia and a somewhat meta approach can be done well, and this film feels like it’s trying to head in that direction. While this trope riddled, self-aware romp almost elevates itself above its peers, it ultimately is unable to nail down its tone.
The absolute bonkers premise is so silly it actually almost works by disarming its audience right away. Buy into the idea that an international pop star could pick a random guy from an audience and marry them on the spot? Sure, why not. But then it proceeds to take itself a little too serious.
Casting Owen Wilson as the romantic lead is a bold choice that goes against the norm – another decision made by the filmmakers that really makes it seem like they always intended to do things differently. Wilson is not the typical heartthrob, he is the diamond in the rough. In rom-coms past, this archetype is usually played by an ugly duckling female lead who gets the glow up when Prince Charming chooses her for the ball. The idea of subverting the norms is an appealing one, especially when it comes to typical male roles in films like these, but the cracks in the script start to show with the lack of commitment to the idea.
There are certainly still a few good takeaways here: bringing attention to the inequality and sexism in the music industry, as well as some legit bangers from Lopez to listen to on the way home. Those messages do come a bit heavy-handed at times, though, and kind of get lost in the mediocrity of the final product.
Lopez and Wilson have good chemistry together and their whirlwind romance is genuinely fun to watch. Sadly, the rest of the cast simply fill generic roles with even more trope-y lines. Sarah Silverman as the best friend is completely wasted, as well as “Game of Thrones” alum John Bradley, who plays Lopez’s manager. Real-life singer Maluma is serviceable as the jerk ex-boyfriend, and his duets with Lopez are certainly a selling point. There are several full-length performances in the film that feel more like music videos – which isn’t that out of place, considering the director has teamed with Lopez in the past for her actual music videos – but the musical sequences detract from the fact this is a film, not an ad for a new J. Lo album. At just under two hours long, some of those performances could have been trimmed or cut to help better get to the point.
The unfortunate lack of execution from the filmmakers turn this film that had promise into a miss, without enough creativity or charm to elevate this past mediocrity.
“Marry Me” is now playing in theaters and streaming only on Peacock.
Film critic and member of the NCFCA and SEFCA