Marry Me Review: Jennifer Lopez And Owen Wilson Tie The Knot In A Glossy Rom-Com Relic

There was a time in the early aughts that you could walk into a movie theater on any day and be blessed with a middling rom-com that America's Sweetheart du jour shot for a couple million dollars in one of her many stark white kitchens. Today, you have to hunt through dozens of streaming services just to find that same brand of mind-numbing joy. But fear not, rom-com lovers, because the queen of the mediocre romantic comedy herself is back, and she's bringing the early 2000s with her.

That's right, Jennifer Lopez is back on the rom-com scene in "Marry Me," an adaptation of a graphic novel (!) of the same name. Yes, "Marry Me" is basically a comic book movie, though those more familiar with the wildly successful Webtoon will see more similarities with the twee, tropey romances that grace the digital publisher's webcomics. But that's not the wildest part of the film: for her romantic partner in a movie that is essentially a vehicle for Lopez to sell a dozen versions of one new track, she chose ... Owen Wilson.

You're probably starting to see the many strange choices that have gone into "Marry Me." J.Lo, the ageless diva, and Owen Wilson, the crooked-smile, crooked-nosed indie mainstay? It's perhaps one of the most bizarre romantic matches made in movie history, and that — in addition to the very silly premise of the movie — is what makes "Marry Me" such a fascinating, if not altogether successful, remix of the middling, mid-budget rom-com.

A Match Made in Some Bizarre Fever Dream

Lopez stars in "Marry Me" as Kat Valdez, a pop diva whose extravagant stunt wedding — in which she planned to marry her fiancé Bastian (Maluma) in front of thousands of concertgoers — is interrupted when she discovers footage of Bastian cheating. Devastated and reeling from the revelation, Kat stops the performance and spontaneously picks a random member of her audience to marry instead: Wilson's perplexed math teacher and single father, Charlie. But what's at first a spontaneous decision turns into a publicity opportunity for Kat, who decides to put on a brave face in the wake of her public humiliation by making Charlie her actual husband for three months. Why three months? Who knows! The arbitrary number makes as much sense as Kat's insistence that putting on a public relationship with some random schoolteacher is good for her image, but that's just the wavelength this movie is on.

And what wavelength is this movie on, exactly? It's best described as a cross between a rom-com plucked out of 2004 and a glossy million-dollar Vitamix Super Bowl commercial (there's an absurd amount of product placement for Vitamix, the go-to blender for all the influencers nowadays) — you know, the ones where they hire a bunch of celebrities to make a fake movie in which you get surprisingly invested before the brand logo pops up like a jump scare. Half the movie plays out in montage, and the other half on social media screens, which pop up and aggressively take over the frame every five minutes, as if a second of dead air would lose the attention of the Tik Tok generation. Scenes suddenly end, jumping without warning to another character's storyline, leaving you scrambling to piece the plot together. With a screenplay written by three writers (John Rogers, Tami Sagher, and Harper Dill), it's no wonder the movie feels a little schizophrenic. Kat Coiro's shiny Tik Tok-ready direction only exacerbates the frantic pace, which feels like it's attempting to make up for the incredibly thin plot.

But at least the performances are holding the movie together, right? Kind of. Lopez and Wilson never quite get over the strangeness of their pairing, playing well to their respective charms but still feeling like they both wandered in from very different movies. Lopez is the embodiment of the movie's rom-com gloss, never a hair out of place even when Kat is emotionally wrecked, and frequently sauntering around in the latest fashions — which, hilariously, are identical to the early 2000s outfits she wore at the height of her first rom-com reign (literally, that hat popped up and I screamed). Meanwhile, Wilson's nose somehow looks even more broken than it ever has been, while his skin has taken on a waxy sheen that wasn't present in his recent roles like "Loki" or "The French Dispatch." Not to speculate too much on an actor's appearance, but Wilson's waxy face feels like Lopez's team took a look at him and said, "Not good enough," and, in attempting to make him J.Lo-ready, turned him into an uncanny version of himself. Luckily, Wilson's natural charisma shines through, and he aw-shucks his way into being the shining light of "Marry Me." If anything, "Marry Me" is a nice reminder that Wilson has still got it — he's exceptionally charming and cute, and can still save a rom-com even when his love interest spends half the movie strutting around with a Vitamix in hand.

Sarah Silverman is also a surprising standout as Charlie's blunt, spotlight-obsessed coworker Parker, while John Bradley pulls a lot of faces as Kat's beleaguered manager Collin. Maluma, a Colombian music star whose sole purpose seems to be to accompany J.Lo on the soundtrack, does a decent job of playing the bad ex. But be warned, there's a surprising amount of Jimmy Fallon making unfunny jokes in this movie.

"Marry Me" feels like a satirical movie that missed the joke. It doesn't have a plot as much as a collection of rom-com tropes — Fake marriage! Reverse "Notting Hill"! Evil exes! School mathalons? — and is strung together by the whisper of a narrative structure. But while "Marry Me" is silly, poorly made, and inarguably a bad movie, I had dumb fun. I enjoyed seeing J.Lo back in her element, and I was entertained by the bizarre chemistry between Lopez and Wilson, and even got used to the film's hyperactive nature. Would I watch it again? No. But I am grateful that a new generation can wander into a theater on Valentine's Day weekend and be unimpressed by a middling, mid-budget rom-com just like the days of yore.

/Film Rating: 5 out of 10