More Like ‘Kill Me’

J-Lo and Owen Wilson try to do away with the rom-com in ‘Marry Me’

Have you seen the trailer for Marry Me?  Trust me, you’ve seen the movie. No need to buy it a ticket or stream it on Peacock.

Do you like that hit song “Marry Me”? Well then maybe you should see “Marry Me” because you’re going to hear that song constantly. You’re going to hear the basic studio version, you’ll hear it as several characters’ cell phone ring tones, then there’s an acapella version sung by high school kids and then there’s the slow ballad duet with Maluma and then they play it straight a couple more times. I didn’t care for that song myself, but I know it’s a great song because every single character in the movie Marry Me talks about what a great song “Marry Me” is and what a hit it is.

MARRY ME★★ (2/5 stars)
Directed by: Kat Coiro
Written by: John Rogers, Tami Sagher, Harper Dill
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, Sarah Silverman
Running time: 112 mins

Marry Me is a rom com. Rom coms are dying. But just when you think they’re done, another one comes along and inexplicably does well at the box office….like Marry Me.  The template for rom coms is as such: two people who were meant to be together are at odds with each other at first (but have lots of chemistry). They both hate each other or they’re competing for the same job or one of them is marrying someone else etc. Then the plot throws them together for some contrived reason and after lots of bickering, they realize they complete each other.

But just as they’re about to get together, a third act miscommunication threatens to break them up. This resolves with  some sort of car chase or a mad dash through an airport.  There’s also a less attractive sidekick or two who has great lines—but no life—that someone like Judy Greer or Thelma Ritter plays. Rom coms are rarely great cinema, but if they follow the rules, they can be perfectly worthy entertainment. Therefore, when you review then, you should judge them by a different set of standards. Even by those standards, Marry Me falls short.

Jennifer Lopez plays a legendary pop star named Kat Valdez but basically, she’s playing herself with some elements of Madonna and Lady Gaga thrown in there.  J.Lo’s performance is serviceable but the real value she brings to this movie is that she looks amazing for her age. She’s supposed to marry Bastian, another pop star.  Maluma, who plays Bastian, is very attractive, but he and J.Lo have about as much mutual chemistry as two A-list actors who have just run into each other on the red carpet at an awards show barely remembering they were in a movie together earlier that year until Ryan Seacrest reminds them of that fact.

Also, Maluma–a Brazilian 28-year-old discovery of Madonna’s who has posed for a series of Calvin Klein Underwear ads – is a fuckboi. You don’t marry Maluma, you leave his hotel room at 3am and never see him again unless he fucks one of your friends. That he cheats on J.Lo is a surprise to no one….except every character in this film.

J.Lo and Maluma are supposed to get married at one of their concerts. As in, J.Lo is performing for a couple of hours and then she has a costume change–a wedding dress–and then her backup dancers are her bridesmaids. Does she not have family or friends? In real life, this would be quite sad but, in this movie, it’s the hottest ticket in town. Everyone wants to go to Kat and Bastian’s wedding….and they can because you can literally buy tickets to it.

Marry Me
Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson have all the chemistry of a bag of donuts in ‘Marry Me.’

Anyway, Page Six (which isn’t a thing anymore, it should have been TMZ) posts a video of Maluma getting it on with J.Lo’s assistant and the wedding is off.  But J.Lo is there on stage wearing a wedding dress while everyone in the audience of this concert is reading about her humiliation on their phones and the wedding must go on as they say.

J.Lo takes the stage and says “if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you’re going to get the same result.” Thus she decides to do something different like marry a rando who is attending one of her concerts. J.Lo makes Owen Wilson take the stage and marry her.  Owen Wilson, who looks like a cross between Ellen DeGeneris and a Golden Retriever, marries her to be nice. He’s not a fan. He’s just attending the concert because his daughter is.

Owen Wilson plays a dopey but loveable recently divorced math teacher who is attending the concert at the behest at his lesbian co-worker played by Sarah Silverman who is trying very hard to hide her disgust with this movie behind a façade of cartoon-like spazziness and bravado. I get the feeling that when the director yells “cut”, Silverman runs into her trailer, closes the door and slaps herself several times saying “I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself.”

Thus, we get to the part of the rom com that throws the two leads together. As in, they’re married now. If this were a proper rom com, the two characters would fight and bicker and bemoan the mistake they just made which would only display their magnificent chemistry. There’s no fighting. There’s no chemistry. Owen Wilson and J.Lo are extremely polite to each other like they’re on a bad first date that friends of theirs set up. He occasionally teases her about having so many assistants and appointments and she teases him back for not being on social media and owning a flip phone. That’s as acrimonious as it gets.

About that flip phone?  If this was ten years ago, a rom com lead who owned a flip phone would be dorky and cute in an old fashioned, out-of-step way. Today, the only reason someone doesn’t have a smart phone is if he’s a sex offender and his parole officer has forbidden him from having access to the internet.

J.Lo’s character does a lot of Instagram #spon for brands like Guess Jeans and Vitamix. Maybe at one point in the development of the script, these #spon moments were supposed to indicate that Kat Valdez is some sort of sellout who can’t put down her phone and thus needs a principled nobody like Owen Wilson to ground her. But the fact that they use real brand names lead me to believe that the movie itself is using J.Lo to advertise these brands via her character. If I’m not mistaken, I believe that this movie takes the position that Owen Wilson needs a wife like J.Lo to show him the value of Instagram #spon.

There’s also a subplot that I could barely follow where Owen Wilson’s daughter likes her new rich, fun-loving stepfather (who never appears on screen) and this makes Owen Wilson insecure so he micromanages her life which the movie intends to be adorable but it’s kind of creepy. The child actress who plays the daughter is lifeless and flat and her backstory –she was a star mathlete but she choked in a competition–isn’t interesting at all. But now that J.Lo is her stepmom, Owen Wilson is the coolest dad ever!

I guess that’s his motivation for staying married to this woman he has nothing in common with. Marry Me wants you to feel bad that Owen Wilson is losing his daughter in the divorce but they’re together a lot; he teaches at her school. And the ex-wife he fears losing her to never appears on screen. Math also shows up as some sort of metaphor for how life works out. Something about solutions appearing when you live in the question.

The third act miscommunication that temporarily breaks them us is that J.Lo starts making music with Maluma again and for some reason the public loves the idea that they’re back together again even though he just publicly humiliated her.

The final car chase or run through the airport is some confusing situation where, in the middle of a talk show appearance with Maluma, J.Lo realizes she wants Owen Wilson back so flies coach to Ohio. Usually, the mad dash through the airport happens because one of the romantic leads is about to move, or marry someone else, and they need to stop that from happening. Owen Wilson is just attending a math competition with his daughter. He’ll be back. She’s just impatient. But it’s cute to watch her run through the airport in six inch heels and a tight vinyl dress so it’s all good.

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