It strikes me as odd that Marry Me is based on a graphic novel, since I tend to associate the form with science fiction, young adult themes, or horror/suspense stories. Marry Me is about as generic a rom-com as you’re going to find in 2022, and rom-coms are the purest of Hollywood products. As such it works fairly well, since the casting is almost too on-the-nose. Jennifer Lopez stars as a cognate of herself, a rich pop star whose every move is scrutinized by the press and the public, while Owen Wilson plays the self-deprecating everydude who manages to win her heart. This kind of thing has been done a number of times before, most famously in Notting Hill, and it’s always the casting rather than the writing that determines if it will be a success.
Kat Valdez (Lopez) is set to marry her equally popular singer boyfriend, Bastian (Maluma), in an online ceremony at the end of one of her concerts, but minutes before the wedding she finds out he’s been cheating on her with her assistant and impulsively picks a guy out of the audience to marry instead. That guy happens to be Charlie (Wilson), a divorced math teacher who has accompanied his Kat-fan daughter to the concert and is holding up a sign saying “marry me,” which is not an entreaty but the title of Kat’s latest hit single. Though Charlie clearly knows Kat’s desperate move is a publicity stunt, he goes along with it because he’s a nice guy. “I have to finish what I started,” becomes Kat’s mantra, though it’s assumed that the “engagement” will only last as long as the press stays interested. Of course, things become more complicated as Kat, beset by more than just romantic problems, comes to see Charlie as the kind of man she could actually love.
Most of the comedy has less to do with the odd couple premise than with Kat’s glitzy lifestyle, which is ridiculed but only up to a point. The weird thing is that it’s very easy to believe Lopez actually lives like this, with every breath she takes recorded and shared to the world. But as a rom-com the movie also takes certain things for granted, such as the belief that marriage is the highest form of civilized behavior, and thus Marry Me is pure fantasy, though not a fantasy that takes advantage of its ridiculous premise. Wilson doesn’t really have to do much to convey Charlie’s sincerity and worthiness, which I suppose is also a kind of hallmark of these kinds of rom-coms, but even if you can see why someone like Kat would fall for someone like Charlie, you wonder why on earth they would do it all in a fishbowl.
Now playing in Tokyo at Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi (050-6868-5060), Toho Cinemas Chanter Hibiya (050-6868-5001), Toho Cinemas Shinjuku (050-6868-5063), Human Trust Cinema Shibuya (03-5468-5551), Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills (050-6868-5024).
Marry Me home page in Japanese
photo (c) 2021 Universal Studios