The highly-anticipated 2022 rom-com Marry Me, starring Owen Wilson, Jennifer Lopez, and Maluma, clings to the heritage of its genre. The 2020s (or really the 2000s in general) are not the era of the traditional rom-com; we get the occasional low-budget cringe-fest of a Netflix Original, which are entertaining in their own right, but it seems that Hollywood has lost interest in putting light-hearted love stories on the silver screen. That’s why I was excited to see Marry Me — it featured major actors, possibly the strangest pairing I’d ever seen, was made to be released in theaters, and seemed to evoke the gimmickiness and saccharine quality of the golden era of rom-coms, combining the unlikely lovers trope of movies like Pretty Woman and the I-Was-Pretending-But-Now-I’m-Not theme of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You.
In present-day New York City (sans COVID), Owen Wilson’s Charlie Gilbert, a single dad and middle school math teacher, agrees to attend a Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) concert with his daughter and his coworker in order to prove to his daughter that he’s just as fun as her new step-dad. The concert is meant to be a major wedding event, the ceremony set to take place during the concert; however, Valdez receives word in the middle of the concert that her fiance, Latin Pop superstar Bastian (played by Maluma), has been cheating on her with her assistant. Instead of calling off the wedding, Valdez impulsively picks a random man out of the crowd to marry: Charlie Gilbert. He agrees to stay married to her for six months to protect her image, a decision that causes him to be swept into a frenzy of press and publicity that almost drives him to quit. As they spend time together they grow close, and despite ups and downs and returns of ex-fiances they help each other find what is most important to them.
Marry Me is undoubtedly a feel-good flick; between the endearing unlikely romance, the evolving relationship between father and daughter (and evolution of each one’s self-confidence), and the droopy-eyed English bulldog, there will be something to melt almost any viewer’s heart. Upon seeing the previews, I thought that Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson were a really strange match. That initial impression held up… they are a strange match, but that’s the point. The age-old trope of the unlikely couple prevails again, its victory not unwelcome. Gilbert teaches Valdez to become more unplugged and independent, and Valdez teaches Gilbert to cut loose a little. They each find the part of themselves that is a bit closer to the other and find a space that they can occupy together, not neglecting the foundations of either’s former life.
I must admit that the film had a Netflix-esque quality that was not resolved by the end of the film. This, I think, was due to its low budget: it was made on a budget of only $23 million, despite the film’s big-name lead actors and lots of implied glamor within the film. The low budget showed in places like the concert scene, where the stadium looked much smaller than one would expect for the greatest super-star wedding event in history. The camera quality and camera work, too, were surprisingly unimpressive. Ironically, the movie would probably look more professional on your TV at home than on the giant silver screen, where its flaws are amplified. Overall, though, the movie was successful at executing its vision given such a low budget.
If you are nostalgic for the classic rom-coms of the 80s and 90s, or if you’re looking for a feel-good movie with charm and a sprinkle of cliche, I recommend Marry Me. It may not be groundbreaking or epiphany-inducing, but it is a satisfying in-theater renewal of the genre we all know and love.