Jennifer Lopez knows a thing or three about media harassment and being in the public eye 24/7, but that only makes the far-fetched romantic comedy Marry Me seem even less tolerable or redeemable than it might have looked on paper. In its opening minutes, this slickly made, music-drenched concoction serves up a premise so massively implausible — that one of the hottest female singers on the planet would replace her cheating macho fiancé in front of a live TV audience with an ineffectual single dad math teacher in his 50s — that it can never recover. It is, in two words, perfectly preposterous.
Lopez, whose last feature was the far more provocative Hustlers three years ago, plays Kat Valdez, a not unconvincing version of the star herself; she’s a sizzling entertainer at the peak of her powers whose half-her-age singer-partner Bastian (Colombian musician Maluma) has the bright idea to get it on with a hot young thing minutes before he and Kat are supposed to be married onstage at a sold-out concert. A portion of the show features gyrating nuns.
One might think that discovering such egregious misbehavior would be enough to cool Kat, or anyone, on the idea of marriage for at least a week or two. But in a misguided variation of “the show must go on” (after all, an estimated 20 million people have paid good money to watch the music-filled extravaganza), Kat beckons onstage the first guy she lays eyes on, the milquetoasty Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), who’s brought his young daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman) to the show, and strong-arms him into televised matrimony; this will be her fourth marriage. Talk about greatness being thrust upon someone.
It’s somewhat doubtful that even as inspired a comic marital plot-meister as Preston Sturges could have convinced an audience to buy a premise this outrageous. But getting the viewer to swallow this set-up of Kat feeling financially obliged to spontaneously marry a stranger and of a sensible fellow being shoe-horned into the arrangement seems madly beyond the pale.
Having committed to diving down into such a deep hole of implausibility, director Kat Coiro and writers Harper Dill and John Rogers, working from Bobby Crosby’s 2010 graphic novel, are obliged to excavate whatever traces of human emotion they can from such an arbitrary and unlikely relationship. A top-drawer celebrity for years, Kat lives in a hermetically sealed world of assistants, enablers, limos and toadies of all makes and models.
“Why do I always pick the wrong guy?,” Kat asks her beleaguered publicist (John Bradley, formerly Samwell Tarly in Game Of Thrones) as she jumps headlong into another mis-match without a moment’s hesitation or reflection. In between glamour events of all kinds, Kat surprises her new husband by turning up at one of his daughter’s classrooms, and then at a school dance (the girl’s mother died several years earlier); it’s been a long time since Kat has hung out with regular folks.
It’s pretty evident where all this is headed, although the irrepressible Bastian inevitably resurfaces to try to win Kat back. Of course, the story is written to favor the idea that somehow Kat and Charlie will work out an m.o. and remain together, but such an arrangement defies all logic even as it’s slanted to make it seem like a possibility. Marry Me isn’t remotely funny or charming enough to make you even fantasize that this relationship could ever amount to anything real.
Much has changed recently in the movie world, but not the fact that most early-in-the-year releases are dogs that will soon be forgotten. Onward and upward.
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