The desire to be loved and feel loved is one that is inherent to human existence. While there is no magic formula to finding that perfect match one important ingredient is “risk.” Whether meeting someone at a friend’s party, swiping right on a dating app, or rekindling a fire with an ex, one must be willing to take a chance. It is this with great risk comes great reward mentality that Kat Coiro’s romantic comedy Marry Me bets the house on.
Adapting Bobby Crosby’s graphical novel of the same name, Coiro’s film carries an art loosely imitating life appeal. In an inspired bit of casting, Jennifer Lopez plays Kat Valdez, a pop superstar whose romantic life is always on display for public consumption. One half of a celebrity powerhouse couple, Valdez is set to marry her boyfriend Bastian (Maluma), a suave singer, live on stage after they perform their hit song “Marry Me.” However, mere minutes before they are set to take their vows, news breaks online that Bastian has been cheating.
Feeling the walls of her fairy tale castle crumbling around her, a distraught Valdez decides to do something bold. She is going to go through with a wedding, but with a stranger in the audience. Locking eyes with Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), a single father and math teacher who is attending the concert with his daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman) and his co-worker Parker (Sarah Silverman), Valdez decides to take the plunge into wedded bliss first and figure out if they can swim afterwards. Sensing that the popstar needs a win, Gilbert agrees to the spontaneous union without thinking about the repercussions.
As one would expect, the couple’s union instantly becomes headline fodder, which forces them to keep the marriage going long enough to not be viewed as a mere gimmick. Like the wave of reality shows where a couple gets to know each other only after getting hitched, Valdez and Gilbert slowly start to infiltrate each other’s world. This culture shock hits Gilbert the hardest as he finds it difficult to adjust to a life where every action is documented on social media. Compared to Valdez, who never goes anywhere without her personal videographer, Gilbert is practically an analog guy in digital world.
What Gilbert does have going for him though is a life where personal connections are more important than global ones. In his world Valdez is allowed to truly be herself, free from the gaze of public scrutiny. It is in observing how Gilbert and Valdez begin to adapt and enhance the other’s world where the charm of Coiro’s film becomes apparent. While not breaking any new ground, for all its talk of taking chances the film itself plays it rather safe, it is the little things that make Marry Me work. Coiro is keenly aware of the tropes of the genre, but still finds several opportunities to play with the audiences’ expectations. However, the real draw here is Lopez herself.
The genuine warmth Lopez brings to the film is infectious. Her effortless charm allows the film to survive even the most contrived moments, such as when the catchy musical numbers begin to feel like a blatant commercial for the film’s soundtrack. Though a talented multifaceted artist, who has delivered great performances across various cinematic genres, there is something comforting about watching Lopez navigate the romantic comedy space again. She not only shines in the film, but practically carries it on her back. While Wilson taps into the loveable average joe persona he has played in countless films, he is not given too much to do from a script perspective. Much like the supporting castmates Sarah Silverman and Michelle Buteau, who fill out the witty best friend roles respective, Wilson delivers just enough to keep the film moving.
Playing like a modern Notting Hill, with several A Star is Born style musical numbers thrown in for good measure, Marry Me is a charming romantic comedy that never aims to be anything more than what it is. Similar to good comfort food on a cold night, it satisfies while putting a smile on one’s face.