At one point in Jennifer Lopez’s rom-com, Marry Me, Lopez’s character — a singing sensation named Kat Valdez — tells her audience that love is nothing more than a fairy tale.
Poor Kat. She’s flustered because Bastian (Columbian singer Maluma) her equally famous fiancee has been unfaithful to her, news Kat learns moments before the two are scheduled to be married in a grand ceremony during a concert at Madison Square Garden.
So, yes, weep for Kat. What she thought would be the best of her several previous marriages has gone up in flames.
There isn't much irony in saying that Marry Me — the title is taken from a hit song that Bastian and Kat have recorded together — qualifies as its own lavish fairy tale complete with musical numbers, product placements (Coach and Guess, among them), and an unashamed commitment to formula.
Shaken emotionally, Kat decides — during the concert — to marry a stranger, a divorced Brooklyn-based math teacher (Owen Wilson) who’s attending the concert with his teenage daughter (Chloe Coleman) and his school’s gay guidance counselor (Sarah Silverman), the woman who procured the tickets and provides what there is of the movie's comic relief.
Wilson’s baffled Charlie heads to the stage and the two marry. It’s not supposed to last. It's Kat's impulsive attempt to demonstrate how hollow marriage really is, not to mention a slam at the self-impressed Bastian.
So that’s the formula: Two unlikely characters are united in a sham marriage. They gradually get to know each other and, here's a shock, they fall in love.
A last-minute change of heart by Charlie serves as the third-act obstacle that must be overcome before the couple is reunited —at a math competition in the midwest no less.
Wilson does his best to create a human-scaled character but the movie makes no bones about being a star vehicle for Lopez — bold, glossy, and operating in a sphere beyond ridiculous, a place where a major star visits a junior high school classroom and charms the students in Charlie’s math club.
See, Kat really is a down-to-earth human being
If audiences weren’t willing to accept ridiculous fantasy, a whole lot of movies never would have been made.
That means there’s an audience for Marry Me and, say this, Lopez doesn’t shortchange the audience when it comes to musical numbers. One involves female dancers dressed (sort of) as nuns and male dancers with turned-around collars.
Such moments may be overproduced but Lopez knows how to sell a song even as she splashes her way through what may turn out to be the silliest, most shallow rom-com of the year.