Film & TV

Film Review: ‘Marry Me’: Can a Popstar Love a Grade School Math Teacher?

BY Mark Jackson TIMEFebruary 20, 2022 PRINT

PG-13 | 1h 52m | Rom-Com | February 11, 2022

For a time, Jennifer Lopez was the opposite of Madonna. Madonna was a groundbreaking, global pop-superstar for the ages, but didn’t act very well, although she longed for thespian street cred.

Jennifer Lopez always had acting chops, but strove for pop-stardom, and while she was a bona fide dance powerhouse (beginning her showbiz career as one of the Fly Girl dancers on Fox’s sketch comedy “In Living Color”) she had a somewhat anemic stage personality as a singer.

J-Lo grazed Oscar territory as Selena Quintanilla in “Selena,” but eventually anchored her acting career as a rom-com stalwart with “The Wedding Planner,” “Maid in Manhattan,” and “Monster-In-Law.” Along the way, she refined her musicianship, and established herself as a serious pop star. Isn’t “serious pop star” an oxymoron? To insist so would make one a hater. It’s a major accomplishment. Give kudos.

Most people are very pleased with Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s recent Bennifer-2 situation. Maybe someday it’ll become a rom-com unto itself; maybe Ben and Jen will star in it as themselves, playing themselves. Hopefully it’ll not be “Gigli 2.” But for now, we have J-Lo’s latest rom-com, “Marry Me.” Any good? It’s not bad at all.

Kat Valdez

man and woman in front of blue background in Marry Me
Bastian (Maluma) and Kat (Jennifer Lopez) possibly rekindling a disastrous relationship, in “Marry Me.” (Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures)

Pop superstar Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) is getting married, onstage, in front of an audience of loyal fans, and 20 million streaming viewers! But in the last second, Kat picks up on weird, avoidance behavior from her entourage; every one’s scrutinizing their phones more than normally, so Kat commandeers the nearest phone, and, lo and behold, there’s her fiancé Bastian (Maluma) caught red-handed, smooching her personal assistant backstage.

What to do, what to do?? Now onstage, Kat sees a blond stranger in the crowd holding a “Marry Me” sign (Owen Wilson). Kat and husband-to-be were to sing their vows in a popular pop-ditty duet they’d penned called “Marry Me.” Well! There’s clearly a solution here! Marry that guy with the sign! Take that uppercut to the chin and bounce right back up off the mat! Talk about your marriages of convenience.

man holds sign in crowd in Marry Me
Parker (Sarah Silverman, second from left), Lou (Chloe Coleman), and Charlie (Owen Wilson) attend the hugely public wedding of a pop star, in “Marry Me.” (Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures)

Is This Love, Is This Love That I’m Feeling?

Charlie (Wilson) is a single parent and middle school math teacher. He happened to be at the wedding because his 12-year-old daughter, Lou (Chloe Coleman) wanted go. And his buddy Parker, the school guidance counselor (Sarah Silverman), had extra tickets and twisted his arm, arguing that this kind spontaneity would make him less stick-in-the-mud-boring to his daughter.

In going along with the wedding, fuddy-duddy Charlie was only trying to be kind and help out the nice, crying, damsel in distress in the white dress onstage, but now notices he’s immediately become cool at school and to his daughter. What dad doesn’t want to be seen as cool by his daughter?

Kat’s manager Colin (John Bradley) sees this marriage as an immediate career-killer, but, noticing that social media is enjoying the spectacle, decides they can salvage and spin it. And so three-times married Kat, feeling a lukewarm spark, decides to see what happens for a month or two. The entire train wreck is salvaged as purely transactional; a very strange business arrangement … with possible benefits.

man and woman sit on rug in Marry Me
Kat (Jennifer Lopez) and Charlie (Owen Wilson) find unlikely love, in “Marry Me.” (Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures)

Of course, because Kat looks like Jennifer Lopez, normal guy Charlie soon loses his mind. It’s actually questionable that a man in his position could be as restrained as Charlie appears to be.

But—Charlie’s idea of a good time is taking his math class to the math competition finals, and Kat’s a jet-setting pop icon goddess. Eventually the fast-lane life beckons again. What will happen? Can two people from such different worlds find true love together?

man and woman singing onstage in Marry Me
Bastian (Maluma) and Kat (Jennifer Lopez) possibly rekindling a disastrous relationship, in “Marry Me.” (Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures)

Definitely a Better Date Movie Than ‘I Want You Back’

“Marry Me” is based on a graphic novel, which is not exactly standard source material for a rom-com. I mention this because some folks hate rom-coms due to the outcomes being predictable. But that’s like saying the outcome of a football games is predictable because somebody wins. It’s not about whether the couple gets together at the end, but the journey there. Good rom-com’s make you doubt that two seemingly incompatible people could find love; the movie needs to play Three-card Monty with your sensibilities—it’s got to fake you out believably before delivering. “Marry Me” does a decent job of this.

dance ensemble rehearsing in Marry Me
Kat (Jennifer Lopez), a global pop star, rehearses a dance number, in “Marry Me.” (Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures)

“Marry Me” is more than a little autobiographical since J-Lo is, in fact, a global pop superstar; Kat is obviously a loosely fictionalized version of herself. If one wants to wax cynical, “Marry Me” doubles as an intended Valentine’s Day hit movie as well as an advertisement for both J-Lo’s and Maluma’s respective musical careers: The title tune is played a few times almost in its entirety, and the musical-dance numbers feel a lot like J-Lo commercials. J-Lopez is listed as a producer. Say no more.

“Marry Me is showbiz marketing, branding, and packaging savvy writ large. Madonna started all this; Jennifer Lopez is living the dream. Here’s to Bennifer-2! May they live happily ever after.

movie poster for Marry Me
Movie poster for “Marry Me.”

‘Marry Me’
Director: Kat Coiro
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, Sarah Silverman, John Bradley
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: Feb. 11, 2022
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Mark Jackson
Film Critic
Mark Jackson is the senior film critic for The Epoch Times. Mark has 20 years' experience as a professional New York actor, classical theater training, and a BA in philosophy. He recently narrated the Epoch Times audiobook “How the Specter of Communism is Ruling Our World,” and has a Rotten Tomatoes author page.
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