image credit: Universal Pictures

Movie Review: Marry Me (2022) ****

In Marry Me, a pair of characters best compared to IRL Jennifer Lopez and Bad Bunny agree to get married on stage during a concert, but the dude popstar turns out to be a cheater, so Character JLo marries an audience member on a whim because he’s holding a “Marry Me” sign. Much to her benefit, this audience member turns out to be Owen Wilson, who is very good at “I’m in love with this woman”-face.

As it turns out, Owen Wilson is a humble single dad math teacher. He respects the hell out of JLo’s character. He’s one of the nicest romcom heroes, and I just always love nice dad heroes. The match-up between a fabulous globe-trotting pop star and the Extremely Common Dude creates plenty of insecurity between them. Of course it all works out nicely.

That said, I was not terribly impressed the first time I watched Marry Me. I’d have probably given it a knee-jerk two stars of “what is this crap?” This was my first rewatch since release two years ago, and I loved it a lot more.

In the intervening years, I’ve watched a ton of romcoms, high and low budget. I also watched a movie with a similar hero/heroine duo, but at Christmastime, and with Freddie Prinze Junior: Christmas With You. I gave that one five stars because I was in *such* a Christmas romcom mood and it made me so happy. Marry Me isn’t quite as much of a happy-glow vibe for me, but it’s also way better than two stars now that I can compare it to many more flicks in the genre.

Where Marry Me works, it works very well. I like JLo romcoms because she puts her whole doe-eyed heart into them. She has outstanding chemistry with Owen Wilson (kachow!). I believe that both of them have reasonable motivations to make a sincere effort to have a successful marriage with a stranger from disparate life circumstances.

This movie also features young Chloe Coleman as Lou, the daughter. You might recognize her from Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves as Chris Pine’s adorable daughter. This lass has enormous talent, and she’s been exercising it since she started in 2013, locking in thirty roles on IMDB. Can you imagine a career starting on Glee and crossing through “daughter of Captain Kirk and Lightning McQueen” before you’re an adult? Although I *always* worry about kids working so much, I’m also impressed when kid actors are good enough to meet (possibly exceed) the abilities of the adults surrounding them.

The casting in general is notable for a romcom that feels a bit Hallmarky. Sarah Silverman gets to be the chaotic lesbian best friend, Samwell from Westeros is the manager guy for JLo, Maluma played Bad Bunny* (*not really), and Jameela Jamil even shows up for a minute with hardly a single pomp OR a circumstance. I was just looking at the casting for JLo’s upcoming music video movie, and it’s got an even more stacked cast list, so I’m thinking JLo has a lot of famous friends?

On a less glowing note, the setup stretched credulity a *little* too far. The whole wedding flipperoo early on still just feels extremely contrived to put these people together. I wouldn’t mind if the movie’s energy went a little harder in general–more stylized, more silly, more *something*. Matching the extreme sincerity of JLo’s interest in the “I still have hope for love” narrative (which is charming) with this concert wedding that suddenly involves a total stranger just doesn’t quite work for me personally. But I bet that’s the element that makes this a perfect fantasy for someone.

The soundtrack is solid if you like pop music, the chemistry and performances are worth the price of admission, and I genuinely enjoy every single look JLo’s character wears in Marry Me. I’m glad I spent eight bucks to buy this one because I know I’m going to keep rewatching it when my brain doesn’t want to brain and I just want to say “Wowwwww, kachow!” every time Owen Wilson is on screen.

Okay, but now let’s imagine that the “Hansel” theme played when Owen Wilson went on stage to marry JLo. That would have made this a six star movie, bare minimum.

(image credit: Universal Pictures)

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