There are a handful of what I’d consider ‘perfect’ movies that I think should not ever be remade. Out of the rom-com genre, that includes anything by Nora Ephron as well as Notting Hill by Roger Michell. Well, Marry Me isn’t a remake, but one could say it’s Notting Hill on steroids, though I was quite aghast to learn it’s based on a graphic novel. Say what? Yep, you read that right. Marry Me is based on a graphic novel by Bobby Crosby, who’s a writer and YouTuber.
I guess it shouldn’t be surprising then that Marry Me plot leans quite heavily into fame, as well as finding love, in the era of rampant social media. Now, back to the Notting Hill comparison; instead of a world-famous movie star, we’ve got a world-famous pop star Kat Valdez, played by a real life pop star J Lo (just like Anna Scott was played by world-famous movie star Julia Roberts). The bumbling, geeky, social-media-adverse random guy Charlie Gilbert is played by the quirky but aw-shucks charming Owen Wilson.
Now, I normally don’t go out of my way to see a rom-com in the theater unless it’s a press screening, but there’s something so cute and adorable about the trailer that I had to say erhm, I do. I have to say, it’s the casting of Owen Wilson that sold me, and that’s the only reason my hubby even agreed to see it. To be fair, I do think Jennifer Lopez is actually quite likable even in her cheesiest, dopiest rom-coms (yes, that includes Maid in Manhattan, Mwahahahaha). On the way home from the theater, my hubby and I talked about how the casting is the only reason this kind of movie works.
I don’t think one needs to know much about the plot, you can practically guess it from the poster and the trailer promises something totally predictable, as most rom-coms are. I wish the trailer hadn’t given so much away, as the moment J Lo, er I meant Kat spotted Charlie holding a Marry Me sign is quite hilarious, but it didn’t have the same effect as you have seen it multiple times in the trailer and TV spots. What follows is a roller coaster ride for Charlie who’s dragged along by the circus that follows Kat’s every move… not only does she have a large entourage of ‘helpers’ (manager, assistant, etc.) she also has a cameraman who films her practically 24/7 for her episodic YouTube channel.
For someone who use social media sparingly, I find the entire thing so repugnant, which is why I so identify with Charlie’s aversion to it. But for Millennials and even baby boomers who are online constantly, they probably identify with Kat and doesn’t see anything wrong with the need to always inform strangers about what you are doing and where. In any case, director Kat Coiro does a decent job constructing that two contrasting world the two leads live in-Kat’s high-flying, glitz and glamor lifestyle versus Charlie’s quiet, mundane life as a math teacher. I do appreciate that they actually show BOTH characters doing their job as there are so many rom-coms where the character are described as having certain professions, but are never shown doing any work.
J Lo is basically playing herself here, and in many ways her optimism about love is like her own self who has three failed marriages but yet still not cynical about romance. As for Wilson’s character, Charlie is perhaps a little too earnest and saintly that he’s so one-dimensional. It also stretches believability that Kat seems so immediately comfortable being in Charlie’s world and agreeing to forgo her entourage and social media presence so easily when Charlie requested it. The clash between the two very different worlds just aren’t explored as well as it could’ve been, either for drama or for laughs.
The movie is as its best when Kat and Charlie are together, as Lopez and Wilson have a fun chemistry. Even during the corniest moments, you can’t help but root for them. The moment they’re dancing to Robert Goulet’s Lancelot singing If Ever I Would Leave You from Camelot makes me smile given how different the style of music is to the ones depicted in this movie. I wish there are more of these cute moments between them, but of course, given it’s a J Lo movie, I suppose their fans want to see more of her singing and dancing. Now, I don’t mind the scene of her writing a song and even recording in a studio, especially since I quite like the enjoy her ballad On my Way, but the I could use less of the stage performances between J Lo and Columbian singer Maluma. The movie’s nearly two-hour running time feels overlong for such a simple story.
As for the supporting cast, John Bradley is quite good here as Kat’s loyal manager who seem to actually care about her well being instead of just pandering her boss. There’s even a funny jab against Game of Thrones which is where the British actor got her big break. Sarah Silverman also basically plays the quirky-best-friend type similar to Rhys Ifans’s Spike in Notting Hill, though not as funny. I think she can be funny, though her comedic moments come across as trying too hard. Chloe Coleman as Charlie’s daughter is pretty cute, in fact the whole interaction in the class room is endearing despite over-stretching its believability.
Now, the perfect rom-com is one where the movie consist of romance and comedy in equal measure. In the case of Notting Hill, there are a plethora of hilarious circumstances that Hugh Grant’s character finds himself in that bring in the laughs, not to mention the biting wit by Richard Curtis that balances humor and poignancy so brilliantly. Sorry J Lo, no matter how phenomenally-crafted the stage performances are, it can’t replace brilliant writing which is what makes a movie timeless. I’d even rewatch certain scenes from my fave rom-coms years later and they’re still timeless and funny. I can’t remember hardly any scene I want to rewatch in Marry Me even though I had seen it hours ago.
So overall Marry Me was an enjoyable distraction for two hours and should please most rom-com fans, but I wouldn’t say it transcend the genre nor would I rank it high amongst my fave rom-coms. Despite its common tropes and predictability, the two leads still make this a worthwhile watch for Valentine’s weekend.
Have you seen MARRY ME? Well, what did you think?