Jennifer Lopez is Kat Vardez, a major singing sensation who’s about to be part of a not-so-minor viral sensation. The idea is that in front of a huge concert crowd and 20 million followers online she’s about to get engaged to her singing partner live onstage. Deals are signed, TV commentators are on high alert and Kat is drowning in both lavish gifts and fans’ well-wishes.
So, what can go wrong? Well, you know that thing about best-laid plans? Yes, that. That can happen. Just as she is about to say “I do”, the internet is suddenly flooded with viral footage of her fiancé cheating on her with another woman.
Now, what would you do in such a situation? Dump him publicly and offer to marry some random guy in the crowd? Well, Marry Me is a fairytale, a rom-com and the shy, divorced maths teacher unwittingly holding a Marry-Me sign for a friend is played by Owen Wilson. So, as the world’s TV cameras fill up with his face, his Charlie Gilbert does what anybody else would do in this situation and says… “yes“.
... Cry havoc! and let slip the conjugal vows of matrimony!
-Cry havoc! and let slip the conjugal vows of matrimony!
This is because you’re either crying or laughing, depending on whether you’re taking this all in as a comedy or a farce. The premise is so artificial and yet it is also so hopelessly romantic. That is because if there is a common currency to romantic comedies, it is the suspension of disbelief. The no-chance guy gets the prom queen. Cinderella gets Prince Charming and so on and so on, and in this movie, it turns out that Charlie Gilbert is a stranger to impulsive behaviour. He’s got a kid. He’s got a maths club. He’s got a dog and not much else going on. Kat, on the other hand, is a serial bride forever looking for Prince charming in all the wrong frogs. The difference with Charlie is that he’s got a good heart, with both feet on the ground and this is where their opposites attract.
It has to be said, that this chemistry also extends to the casting of Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson. With J-Lo essentially having to give a version of her pop star self, Owen Wilson delivers a seriously understated performance alongside her. This is at its best when he tells Kat’s aide that he won’t change his schedule to appear on The Tonight Show. His Charlie has a clear sense of priorities and it’s this indifference to stardom is that steers their ship off the rocks and into safe harbour.
So, here’s the thing. You walk into a film with less and zero expectations and you get nicely swept up in an over-familiar story. In short, give Marry Me a try. Whilst it descends into predictability and it was never going to threaten When Harry Met Sally, the tunes are solid and both Owen Wilson and J-Lo are decently affecting. If you only ever stream this movie from the comfort of your couch, I think you’ll be surprised at just how watchable it turns out to be.1