Kat Coiro’s Marry Me featuring Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, and John Bradley hits theaters just in time for the Valentine’s Day weekend and coincides with the Super Bowl. Lopez plays Kat Valdez, an enormously successful musician who, at the eleventh hour of her very public nuptials, spontaneously exchanges a husband-to-be (Maluma’s Bastian) for a random guy in the crowd who happened to be holding a ‘marry me’ sign.
That random guy is Owen Wilson’s Charlie Gilbert.
Based on a graphic web novel of the same name by Bobby Crosby, screenwriters John Rogers, Tami Sagher, and Harper Dill paint a picture of two overtly controlled people embarking on the crazy journey of discovering true love.
Lopez, who was amongst the producers, plays Kat within an inch of the controlling confluences that give meaning to her professional life. True love evades her because she has no personal life with every hour dedicated to her music.
It just so happens that Kat and Bastian have created a wonderful romance for the public eye and social media is abuzz. On the other hand, Charlie has already suffered through a divorce and takes care of Lou (Chloe Coleman). Lou is full of the teenage angst that drives fathers and daughters apart. Charle’s problem is that he’s a math teacher, with logical flow and inflexibility ruling his life, so for him, Kat’s spontaneity takes him by surprise.
There’s an adage that someone is so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up Charlie’s ass, in two weeks, you’d have a diamond. Yes, I cribbed Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for that one, but it’s true. Charlie is so uptight about his world that he cannot see a life passing by him. There is tension between Kat and Charlie when they first meet, and Charlie’s lack of cooperation in conforming to Kat’s hectic schedule leads to awkwardness between the two and the story.
Although it isn’t painted intentionally, the wealth displayed between Kat’s and Charlie’s world couldn’t be more different; this might be more of a personal reaction, but it felt very much as if the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ had a separation as wide as the Hudson River. As Kat and Charlie get to know each other and their worlds come together, the gulf slowly recedes, however not without Kat turning her nose up and Charlie scoffing at the level of Kat’s inability to fend for herself.
On that note, Marry Me is filmed in and around the five boroughs that make up New York City. Florian Balhaus’ cinematography captures the Yin and Yang differences between Kat’s frenetic world and Charlie’s controlled chaos. Lopez and Wilson don’t reveal chemistry for Marry Me to be entirely believable. However, the Pretty Woman-esque fairytale, aided by the figurative and literal use of Camelot, smooths and perhaps blurs the lines between the couple and their worlds, as Kat learns more about Charlie and finds the aspects of her life that have gone unanswered.
As chaperones, John Bradley’s Collin Calloway and Sarah Silverman’s Parker Debbs are ever-present in massaging the flow of Kat and Charlie’s stories. The challenges within the story are the most truthful aspects of the film. Lopez, the actress, doesn’t stoop to a lower level, even if her character does; she is full of charm, grace, and, especially, feeling. Owen is along for the ride, perking up in the second act where his daughter is concerned.
If you’ll forgive me, my heart pines for Maluma, his on-stage presence glides and glistens when Kat is in his company. Coiro uses her camera to expound on the haves and have-nots, the differing views on how a power couple appears to the world at large versus Kat and Charlie; this is something that Garry Marshall avoided with Pretty Woman. Sorry Owen, but the power couple wins, not because it is rooted in fantasy, a predominant message within the film, but because that’s what the world wants to see. That’s what we’re trained to see, straight or gay. None of this diminishes Kat; however, it negatively impacts Charlie as a character, something Wilson cannot surmount wholly.
Love is a complex thing, something I’m probably not qualified to speak on. Yes, I think of myself as a Romeo, which is why Marry Me appeals to me. The modern attempt at influencing the story through social media presence or a lack thereof, mixed with the overt references to the “haves” and “have nots,” wasn’t enough to convince that the fairytale could genuinely rule the day. However, the supporting characters make a valiant effort to do so.
Directed by Kat Coiro
Written by John Rogers, Tami Sagher, and Harper Dill
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, John Bradley, Chloe Colman, Sarah Silverman
PG-13, 112 minutes, Universal Pictures