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MARRY ME (2022) review

February 19, 2022


written by: John Rogers, Tami Sagher and Harper Dill (screenplay) and Bobby Crosby (graphic novel)
produced by: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Jennifer Lopez, Benny Medina & John Rogers
directed by: Kat Coiro
rated: PG-13 (for some language and suggestive material)
runtime: 112 min.
U.S. release date: February 12, 2022 (theatrical and Peacock)


In releasing “Marry Me” on Valentine’s Day weekend this year, Universal Pictures is trying to see if rom-coms can still deliver a hit. It’s a genre that has seen degrees of success each decade dating all the way back to the screwball comedies from the 30s and 40s, but in the 90s when a plethora of these movies came out, all their plots began to feel interchangeable: a couple meet-cute, they fall for each other, they break up for whatever reason and inevitably reunite realizing something about destiny and soulmates…or close variations of that formula. While the source material for “Marry Me” derives from Bobby Crosby’s webcomic of the same name, that’s really the only unique factor here since all the rom-com tropes and conventions seem to be present and accounted for.

Wading her way through familiar material is director Kat Coiro (“A Case of You”) who shows a steady hand at offering unintentionally inane entertainment that’s paired with a screenplay that is laced with predictability, ridiculous situations and unbelievable behavior, not to mention poor chemistry between the two leads, Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson.



Lopez plays Kat Valdez, a pop superstar, who is riding the wave of her new single, “Marry Me”, a duet with her fiance, Bastian (Maluma, a Columbian singer making his acting debut), whom she plans on tying the not with at a mega-concert in New York City that closes her recent successful tour. Her manager, Collin Calloway (John Bradley, “Moonfall“), is excited, exclaiming that Kat’s upcoming marriage – which will be the singer’s fourth – will be broadcast online and seen by twenty million viewers, which will prove to be a financial success for everyone involved. After performing a scandalous opening number called “Church”, wearing next to nothing and surrounded by scantily clad dancing nuns, Kat is about to perform their hit song in her wedding gown just as a video of Bastian and Kat’s assistant, Tyra (Katrina Cunningham), making out goes viral. Bastian exits from backstage, leaving Kat on stage with her throng of viewers. In an impulsive move, she calls a random groom from the audience and has him up join her up on stage to marry her.

Earlier that day, nebbish middle school math teacher, Charlie Gilbert (Wilson), had no idea he’d be a attending the biggest concert in the world, nor did he have a clue who Kat Valdez was. When his colleague, guidance counselor, Parker Debbs (Sarah Silverman), invites him and his precocious daughter, Lou (Chloe Coleman, “My Spy”), to the big show, he winds up feeling kind of out-of-place and holding a sign that says, “Marry Me”. The next thing he knows he’s onstage agreeing to marry Kat. “It seemed like the right thing to do at the time” (he doesn’t in fact say, “I do”, he instead says “Okay”, in typically hesitant and confused Owen Wilson manner), he mentions and now he has to figure out what exactly he agreed to. The media and social platforms blow up, unable to determine what Kat was thinking and whether or not this means the super couple is over with.



Meanwhile, Kat is determined to remain married to Charlie, telling her manager that if she backs out of this or doesn’t take it seriously, she’ll comes across like a joke (or even more of one). She meets with Charlie and asks that they stay together for at three months, which excites Lou since she’s quite a Kat fan, but leaves these two newlyweds wondering what exactly to do with each other. Charlie obviously finds Kat attractive, but the chasm that separates their lifestyles expands the more time they spend getting to know each other. Kat’s life is constantly bustling, allowing rarely any alone time, with the star being waited on night and day, and followed by a videographer Kofi (Khalil Middleton) who uploads her every move to Instagram and TikTok. Charlie’s life couldn’t be more different, spending his weekday hours devoting to his students, particularly the extracurricular Mathletes who are competing in a Mathalon he oversees. It’s all clearly more of a life change for Charlie than it is for Kat, since he’s not used to being documented 24/7, whether it’s by choice or the paparazzi that’s seemingly always around the corner. Both Kat and Charlie are going to have to decide what they want and if this can work out.

The idea of revolving a rom-com around a couple in their early 50s is rare and intriguing. Two people at this point in their lives have a life experience that can offer some very interesting and relatable elements to a relationship, even if it is one in which they are joined together in a unplanned manner. This isn’t their first relationship and they have emotional baggage and scar tissue from their past that can potentially speak to their current behavior and the decisions they make. The key word is “potential”. It’s unfortunate that writers John Rogers, Tami Sagher and Harper Dill aren’t interesting in exploring how these two characters view relationships at this point in their life and what they’ve learned from their past experiences. It’s hinted that Kat has been unlucky in love and for a brief moment we see Charlie’s ex as she picks up Chloe from school, but that’s about it and that’s unfortunate as there would be some relatable territory for viewers. Although I haven’t read it, from what I can tell the protagonists in Bobby Chase’s webcomic are in their twenties, which is understandable if you’re covering the world of an attention-grabbing pop star, yet more life experience should bring more to the story, but not here. Granted, Lopez and Wilson aren’t necessarily people who look like they are in their 50s (well, maybe Wilson, but certainly not Lopez, who seems to be embracing a Benjamin Button approach to life), so such an opportunity probably didn’t cross anyone’s mind.



The main concept of “Marry Me” is questionable and poorly conceived, making the movie an unintentionally puzzling affair and really hard to get on board with any of it. The way in which Charlie is plucked out of the concert audience and how he goes along with the quick wedding ceremony is a head scratcher, especially how calm he is immediately after something that is typically planned out and quite life-changing for everyone else. Beyond looks it’s hard to comprehend what Charlie sees in Kat since the writers aren’t giving much characterization for Lopez to work with. From the trailer, it looks like she’s playing a possible variation of herself and it would’ve been great for “Marry Me” to surprise us with a more nuanced and complex character for the actress to portray, sadly we don’t get to know much about Kat beyond her career and her talents. There’s a scene where she shows up at the school where Charlie teaches, unexpectedly dropping in on his Mathlete session and she winds up helping the kids overcome the stage fright by sharing her own experience with it and suggesting dance movements as a way to occupy their nerves and help with memorization, while their brain focuses on math tasks. It’s actually a great scene that shows a vulnerability from Kat, one that offers a practical solution that makes sense, but I couldn’t help wanted more from this moment or at least some kind of follow-up in which Kat shares with Charlie that those kids reminded her of herself when she was their age or at least something that would add a back story to the character that would give us an idea of where she comes from.

From start to finish, there are enough musical numbers in “Marry Me” to make any plot and dialogue feel like either outtakes (or maybe a blooper reel) or filler. Certain plot decisions feel like the writers were checking formulaic genre boxes, like when Bastian returns to complicate matters between Kat and Charlie. It feels obligatory and really doesn’t make an iota of sense if you think about it and makes Kat look quite shallow instead of a thoughtful and sensitive person. Again, there are missed opportunities to address real relationship issues and delve into matters of the heart and mind. Considering the generic quality of the plot development, maybe it’s a good thing that there are catchy dance numbers to counter the overall lame story.

The obvious problems that “Marry Me” has can’t necessarily be attributed to Coiro as the director. There isn’t really a wrong move on her part, since it’s all in how the story replicates all the familiar rom-come moves, especially in the eye-rolling third act that concludes the movie. I’ll be interested to see what Coiro does as executive producer and director of Marvel’s “She-Hulk” for Disney+ later this year. I think she can handle the comedic aspects of the comic with a deft hand, but like “Marry Me”, it all depends on the writing.






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