Marry Me (2022) Review
A SWEET, PREDICTABLE,
AND SURREAL COMFORT WATCH
With Hollywood studios investing money in big-budgeted tentpole features or in smaller scale artistic films (ones that are worthy of Oscar / award nominations), the subgenre of romantic comedies is left somewhere in the middle of those two extreme juggernaut film genres. Naturally, romantic comedies movies, which are both a subgenre to both the romance and comedy movie genres, have been around for quite some time; featuring a motion picture with light-hearted, humorous, and dramatic stories that are usually centered around romantic nuances (i.e., such as “true love” and are able to tackle problematic obstacles (be it family, friends, or some unseen challenge). Additionally, like many films from other genres, romantic comedies can range from a wild array of styles; pulling from other movie genres in order to try to appeal to a “wider” audience. Some classic romantic comedy film endeavors include 1940’s The Philadelphia Story, 1953’s Roman Holiday, 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1987’s The Princess Bride, 1989’s When Harry Met Sally, 2007’s Waitress, 2017’s Big Sick, and 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians. Now, Universal Pictures and director Kat Coiro present the latest romantic comedy film with the release of Marry Me. Does this newest rom-com endeavor speak true to the subgenre is pulling from or is it overtly predictable production with little charm in its cliché findings of love and romance?
Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) is a big-time musician artist, enjoying the fame, attention, and popularity across the globe, with her latest sing, “Marry Me” being a major reflection of her love life by planning to wed her beau and duet partner, Bastian (Maluma), during a special concert marking the end of her tour. However, during the middle of the concert just as ceremonial moment occurs, Kat learns that Bastian has cheated on her, leaving the popstar without a partner for the show’s white wedding finale. Struck with a range of emotions, Kat, impulsively, picks out Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) out of the crowd, with the schoolteacher at the concert with his daughter, Lou (Chloe Coleman), and colleague teacher, Parker Debbs (Sarah Silverman). Charlie goes along with the charade, only to realize he’s actually married Kat when the performance is over, left bewildered and confused over what has happened. Sensing a chance to change social media publicity over this surreal situation and persuaded by Kat’s manager, Collin Calloway (John Bradley), Kat ask Charlie to remain together for several months, introducing him to her whirlwind life of being a superstar, while he juggles school demands, unsure how to deal with all the overwhelming attention. However, what starts out a false image to fool the public, starts to grow into something that more that neither Kat nor Charlie could expect in their budding romance.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
I know, I know…. if this opening paragraph sounds familiar it’s because I took it from my opening paragraph for my reviews for Crazy Rich Asians and Isn’t it Romantic. Not because I’m lazy or anything like that, but because it served its purpose of getting my point across the right way in speaking my thoughts on romantic comedies. As does this paragraph of what you are about to read. So…. (without further ado) …. I’ve stated before on my blog that some of my favorite movie genres are action, fantasy, and animated. I do like other films genres out there, but those particular ones are my personal favorite. That being said, I do like watching some of the “romantic comedy” movies. To me (for the most part), I like watching them as they are usually (as stated above) “light-hearted”, which means that I really don’t have to pull that much effort into watching the movie (i.e. not stressed out / nail-biter “edge of your seat” endeavor or a perplexing “highbrow” thinking feature that will having me scratch my head). They usually play the same two or three type of scenarios for the story’s plot (i.e. two lovers presented with a challenge and test their love throughout the feature), but these mostly work for a cinematic endeavor, with several films trying to add other nuances and aspects to try to make-up for the familiar terrain. To me, I do watch these movies usually when I really don’t want to get fully “invested” in a movie or when I’m doing something “around the house” (cleaning up or doing work) as background noise). Of course, there are plenty of romantic comedies out there, but the ones that I usually watch are like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Sweet Home Alabama, This Means War, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and The Princess Bride just to name a few. However, 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians was definitely one of my personal favorites of all time; acting almost like definitive version of what a romantic comedy should be (in every sense of the word). In the end, while this subgenre might be “dismissed” by some of those movie snobs out there, the romantic comedy genre is still a favorable / popular one that should not be overlooked.
This circles back around to talking about Marry Me, a 2022 romantic comedy film and the latest feature to be positioned to tug at love and romance within us all. As one can imagine, rom- coms’ are usually a dime a dozen every year, so it might be quite easy to overlook this particular project when it was first announced. I sure did as I really didn’t hear anything about it until a saw the film’s movie trailer a few months back. From the trailer alone, the movie looked like what I imagine a typical Hollywood romantic comedy to be…. playing up the strengths of hopeful love in a surreal situation, one character is the fame, the other is average, and so on and so forth. The parallels to your average rom-com were all quite visible in the trailer, so I could see some reasons to cast doubt on the project. That being said, what I saw looked comforting to watch. I mean…. who doesn’t want to find love and laughter in your classic rom-com endeavor? Plus, it was nice to see Lopez back to acting. So, I was interested in seeing the film and went to go see Marry Me during its opening weekend. And what did I think of it? Well, I liked it. While it doesn’t go deep enough within its substance material and definitely runs the entire “rom-com” gambit to its fullest (flaws and all), Marry Me is a sweet and endearing picture to watch that harkens upon the proven elements of a romantic comedy for a touching (albeit surreal) feature to watch and get lost in a for almost two hours. It’s not the quintessential romantic comedy out there, but it’s definitely one of the more endearing ones to watch.
Marry Me is directed by Kat Coiro, whose previous directorial works includes such project like The Mick, Dead to Me, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Given her background that is mostly made up of directing several episodes for TV series as well as a few short films, Coiro makes Marry Me her most ambitious project to date, and I do have to admit that she actually does a good job helming the film. Of course, the movie itself doesn’t break “the mold” from romantic comedy genre, but rather Coiro reinforces the overall idealisms and trademarks notions of the classic rom-com within the movie’s framework. Naturally, this is a “double edge” sword of good and bad (more on that below), but the positives of this are really good, with Coiro find strength in the romantic comedy angle of the feature throughout. Of course, the idea of the film is a surreal, with an average joe “everyman” getting swept up in a martial situation with a famous celebrity popstar. Although the idea is unheard of, especially in the movie world as well as in the romantic comedy realm…. where strange / twist of fate situation are bit more commonplace. Coiro seems to relish this opportunity for such a narrative situation, which makes Marry Me have a comforting watch in how everything unfolds; creating a sweet and touching rom-com endeavor that works. Coiro knows who her targeted audience well and seems to hone in on it with the movie’s presentation.
On the more directorial path, Coiro makes the feature light on its feet and never deviates away from the main plot of the feature with unnecessary side points and / or characters. This makes Marry Me have an overall good pace and offers a “breezy” feeling for its relatively average film runtime of 112 minutes (one hour and fifty-two minutes). Plus, like most romantic comedies, the movie is solid “fluff” piece, with broad comedy, romance moments, and large bravado sentimental. There is nothing vulgar to get offended at; keeping the movie a sort of “PG” feeling for the most, despite the film having a PG-13 rating. Overall, I think that Coiro did a good job in directing Marry Me, a film that gives fans of the subgenre a heartwarming and sweet film of finding love.
Another good positive point that Marry Me succeeds in is the overall music. Of course, the various background songs that are customary to romantic comedies are good in a few pockets of the movie, but what I’m talking about are the several songs that are featured in the movie, which are sung by Jennifer Lopez as well as musician Maluma. As to be expected, the songs on the soundtrack are a mixture of love, romance, sentimental for finding love, with a few having that pop music feeling that help promote the movie and a have modern flavor such as “Marry Me”, “Church”, and “1 en 1 Million”, “Love of My Life”, while the other half of the songs have a stronger / deeper meaning love and romance such as “On My Way” and “After Love”. Yes, I will admit that I liked and already downloaded “On My Way” from iTunes. I know, I know…. it’s a bit of a cheesy love song, but I like listening to it. Overall, the soundtrack for Marry Me is great and definitely has a great component for the film’s overall presentation.
For its presentation, Marry Me does it all the right notes and visual nuances one would expect from a romantic comedy feature. This, of course, means that the movie’s presentation meets the industry standard for these type of projects, but it still as a good solid innerworkings throughout, which makes the film’s “look and feel” have a welcoming / pleasing feeling in almost every scene…. from street corners to lavishing concert venues. Everything feels “even keel” and (again) something I expect to see in a modern day rom-com. Thus, the movie’s “behind the scenes” team, including Jane Musky (production design), Keri Lederman (set decorations), and Florian Ballhaus (cinematography) for making the film’s background and visual presentation agreeable to look at throughout the film. Additionally, I do have to mention that the film’s costumes by Caroline Duncan and Diras Guillart are rather quite good. Of course, all of the plain / normal day clothing for several of the main and supporting characters are decent, but I’m talking about the all the clothing and costumed attire for Jennifer Lopez’s Kat Valdez, which utilizes some gorgeous looking pieces and outfits that definitely look like J-LO would wear in the real world (both casual and while perform). Plus, the hair / make-up team should be mentioned for their work on the film…. again…. most in part of Lopez’s character. Lastly, the film’s score, which was composed by John Debney feels quite inviting throughout the entire film. It definitely picks up the rom-com vibes in all the various pieces and evokes the same type of sentimental and warmth. Overall, a good background movie soundtrack for a romantic comedy.
There are a few points of criticisms that I had with Marry Me that are both part of the romantic comedy aspect as well as the whole entire endeavor from conception to overall execution. Perhaps one of the biggest one is the overall nature of the feature’s format and how everything plays out. What do I mean? Well, for better or worse, Marry Me (as mentioned above) meets all the standard fanfare and / or mantras of the romantic comedy picture. This, of course, means that it checks off all the cliches and tropes that are found within stereotypical rom-com feature film and makes the whole endeavor feel predictable. I wouldn’t say that it is bad or downright deplorable, but can feel like the project is reeking with romantic comedy attributes without really going into any new territory. I mean….2018’s Crazy Rich Asians is a prime example of how to make a good romantic comedy by playing up the traditional beats of this storytelling endeavor, yet added something new by exploring Asian culture with all Asian cast. Marry Me is good…. yet it is a tried-and-true rom-com, with predictable plot points, narrative structure, and cookie cutter characters that fitted the mold of this type of storytelling.
Part of the reason for this is that of Coiro’s direction. Of course, I do praise her for playing the strengths of the romantic comedy angle, but it does feel at few points where the film could’ve added something a bit more daring or more substance within a few scenarios and sequences. The other part, which I believe to be the biggest culprit, is the film’s screenplay. I really can’t speak about the translation from Crosby’s graphic novel to a feature film, but the movie’s script that was penned by John Rogers, Tami Sagher, and Harper Dill keeps the movie within the comfort boundaries of a stereotypical romantic comedy. I think the film is a cut better than most rom-com out there of late, with a more streamlined Hollywood feeling of releases from the early to mid-2000s era, yet I still can’t shake off the fact that the feature’s script lacks depth and substance. This is especially noticeable in a few areas where the movie could’ve easily examined aspects, including the lone feeling of being a famous popstar, finding love nowadays, and the caution innerworkings of being on social media. Additionally, it is also hard to shake off the feeling that Marry Me is quite similar to another romantic comedy, with the film bearing a striking familiar perspective to 1999’s Notting Hill. Of course, the romantic comedy angle has been recycled, retooled, and repurpose over and over again throughout the decades. So, having Marry Me being similar to Notting Hill wasn’t a stretch of the imagination, yet there still a linger thought of criticism of watching the same movie…. just with different character names and a modern look of today’s world.
As I said, the movie doesn’t really bring anything to new, which makes the feature have that “comfort food” viewing experience for many. Romantic comedy is definitely an acquired taste, and it will depend on a viewer’s food palette if the find Mary Me to their liking. I kind knew that the movie was going to be like this, so it didn’t bother me as much. Yet, I still would’ve liked to see a bit more “coloring outside the lines” of the narrative found in these type of features.
The cast of Marry Me is pretty good, with the selection acting talents providing to be quite effective throughout the movie in whatever capacity that is called upon them. The only downside to them all is that most fit squarely into the “cookie cutter” character roles of a typical romantic comedy feature. Headlining the movie and acting as the “big ticketed” star of the feature is singer artist / actress Jennifer Lopez in the role of Kat Valdez. Known for her musical career as well as some of her acting roles in Maid in Manhattan, The Cell, and Second Chance, Lopez has certainly made a name for herself and, much like her character in Marry Me, has found fame and success as a celebrity status. Lopez is no stranger to playing lead roles in romantic comedies (see Maid in Manhattan, The Wedding Planner, and Second Chance), so seeing her play such a character like Kat Valdez, a famous popstar artist, doesn’t seem like a far stretch of the imagination of her to play around with. Basically, she kind of playing herself (in some variation form) and I think Lopez handles herself well in that matter. As Kat, Lopez provides a certain of warmth and playfulness throughout all her scenes as well as moments of sincerity. Again, it’s a fairly typical rom-com leading role to play, with Lopez playing that part previous in other films, so one can say that she is just recycling those dramatic emotional parts. Yet, despite that, she certainly does bring the necessary star power to both the role and to Marry Me; handling her parts well and making Kat Valdez endearing to watch from start to finish.
Similarly, actor Owen Wilson is another perfect fit for his role in the film as Charlie Gilbert. Known for his roles in Bottle Rocket, Wedding Crashers, and The Internship, Wilson has always played around with familiar characters within the comedy / romantic comedy; relying heavily on his goofy bravado that ultimately within almost every role he is given. In Marry Me, Wilson’s portrayal of Charlie Gilbert is another collection in his filmography, with the actor once again playing up his strength and making the character his own. Again, like Lopez, the character of Charlie isn’t anything relatively new or creatively done, with the character being a classic staple of the romantic comedy as the average single parent raising a child…in the city…with a middling job position. It’s been done before, but at least Wilson makes the character fun with inane quirks and overall on-screen charisma. All in all, I think that Wilson is a good fit as the “average” man character in the movie, playing up the likeable charm and “everyday” feeling of Charlie Gilbert. Plus, while not a hot or steamy one, the playful romantic banter between Wilson and Lopez is sweet to watch, with pair having good on-screen chemistry connection whenever together.
Of the main three players of the film, I would say that actress Chloe Coleman is the weakest one as Charlie’s daughter, Lou Gilbert. I’m not saying that Coleman, who is known for her roles in Big Little Lies, Gunpowder Milkshake, and My Spy, gives a bad performance or is terrible in the movie…. on the contrary… is she actually holds her own, especially when paired up against Lopez and Wilson. Where she is the weakest is mostly in her character and how she is written, for there is several parts of Marry Me’s narrative where her character could’ve been in, but was clearly omitted / removed. Plus, here story arc could’ve been beefed up a little more. Sure, she has a character arc to follow in the film, but it ends up being the weakest, which makes her character the least interesting. Still, Coleman is good in the role of Lou. I just wished that the script could’ve included her more in the story than was given.
Of the supporting players in the movie, I would say that comedian actress Sarah Silverman (The Sarah Silverman Program and Wreck-It Ralph) as Parker Debbs, Charlie’s collegiate co-worker and best friend. Silverman has all the comedic timing one could expect to find within a romantic comedy as the “sassy” friend. Yet, despite the commonplace trope, Silverman does a good job and handles the part well, having the best “laugh-out-loud” moments in Marry Me. Behind Silverman, actor John Bradley (Moonfall and Game of Thrones) does a surprisingly good supporting character role as Colin Calloway, Kat Valdez’s manager. Of course, I will always know Bradley as Samwell Tarly from GoT, but I was quite impressed with his performance in Marry Me; finding a nice rhythm in playing the role that makes him. He never overacts and fits well into a rom-com setting as a supporting player. Lastly, musician artist Maluma (Mi Selección Columbia and Encanto) plays the character of Bastian, a famous Latin popstar singer that has a love interest with Kat Valdez as well as co-duet partner for the song “Marry Me” in the film. Like Coleman’s Low, the character of Bastian is a bit conventional for romantic comedies and serves the narrative purpose of being the somewhat “challenging obstacle” for one of the main leads to overcome as the ex-boyfriend. So, there isn’t much to the character beyond that. Still, Maluma does a good job his acting and playing up Bastian as the classic rom-com trope.
The rest of the cast, including actor Stephen Wallem (Nurse Jackie and The Resident) as Charlie and Parker’s teacher colleague Jonathan Pitts, actress Michelle Buteau (Tales of the City and Always Be My Maybe) as Kat’s personal assistant Melissa, actress Jameela Jamil (The Good Place and Crossing Swords) as Anikah, and actor Utkarsh Ambudkar (Free Guy and Pitch Perfect) as Coach Manny, are delegated to being minor supporting players in the movie. Collectively, these characters are giving small roles in their respective parts and, while their moment in the spotlight is minimal, their acting is solid in whatever capacity they are given.
In a moment of unexpected behavior, Charlie Gilbert’s life gets turned upside down when he marries popstar singer Kat Valdez at a concert; becoming entangled with her lifestyle as the pair adopt a likeable nature to one another in the film Marry Me. Director Kat Coiro’s latest movie makes a sincere gesture of the romantic comedy angle, with a feature that plays up the subgenre’s strengths and also weaknesses. Yes, the movie does have its flaws, including a formula narrative, predictable characters / story elements, and lacks depth within its context, but the project ultimately succeeds what it sets out to be, especially thanks to Coiro’s direction, a great music, a sweet sentimental feeling, a good pace to the picture, great music, and a likeable cast, including Lopez and Wilson. To me, I liked this movie. Yes, it was a bit cheesy and a surreal situation to take in, but it was sweet and touching movie to get lost in, with Wilson and Lopez finding a nice rhythm in their respective roles. The film doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to feature of this subgenre, but rather reinforces it for a touching and warming feeling. Thus, my recommendation is a solid “recommended” for fans of the rom-com variety as well as a favorable “rent it” for a either a date night or “girls night in” viewing. In the end, while today’s world is filled with tensions of racial divisions, political ambiguity, and global concerning fears, Marry Me stands as a sweet reminder of finding blissful comfort in experiencing cinematic love within a romantic comedy endeavor.
3.9 Out of 5 (Recommended / Rent It)
Released On: February 11th, 2022
Reviewed On: February 18th, 2022
Marry Me is 112 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive material