Title: ‘Marry Me’

Director: Kat Coiro (‘Dead to Me,’ ‘She-Hulk’)

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, John Bradley, Chloe Coleman, Sarah Silverman and Michelle Buteau

Modern society, most notably Hollywood, has thrived on people presenting the best versions of themselves, both in films and in real life on social media. Celebrities are often held up to the perception that they lead perfect lives until they become inadvertently involved in scandal, during which time they often garner even more public attention. That message is is powerfully highlighted in Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson’s new romantic comedy, ‘Marry Me.’

The movie, which explores how celebrities can easily be mischaracterized by society until they shed their exaggerated public image, was written by John Rogers, Tami Sagher and Harper Hill, and is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Bobby Crosby. ‘Marry Me,’ which is being released in theaters and on Peacock today by Universal Pictures, was directed by Kat Coiro.

‘Marry Me’ follows musical superstar Kat Valdez (Lopez, who also served as a producer), who’s part of one of the sexiest celebrity power couples in Hollywood, with new music supernova Bastian (Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma, in his feature-film acting debut). The two are planning to marry during a public ceremony at their highly anticipated concert at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, which will be streamed across multiple platforms. However, Kat’s personal happiness is put into turmoil when she learns that her fiancé in involved in a scandal during the event.

Having finally learned that her traditional, fairytale views on love don’t work for everyone, Kat decides to impulsively marry a fan from the audience, instead of Bastian, during the concert. She chooses Charlie Gilbert (Wilson), a divorced middle school math teacher who’s attending the event with his daughter, Lou (Chloe Coleman), and best friend-colleague, Parker Debbs (Sarah Silverman). Kat chooses him solely because he’s holding a sign with the name of her latest single, the titular ‘Marry Me.’ While they’ve never met before, they decide to stay married after the ceremony and get to know each other, as they’re both searching for something real in a world where value is based on celebrities and their social media presence.

‘Marry Me’ is reminiscent of classic romantic comedies from the 1980s and ’90s that focus on external forces that conspire to separate the two leads, who come from different worlds, as they form an unlikely connection. But the new movie is also relevant to modern audiences, as it also powerfully chronicles society’s current insatiable desire to continuously follow people’s lives on social media, especially celebrities. The plot demonstrates a shrewd understanding of the way modern celebrity operates through Kat’s constant documenting – and ultimately defending – of her impulsive relationship with her new husband on her social media accounts.

Lopez infuses her own experiences as a world-renowned singer-actress over the past quarter of a century into her effortless, commanding performance as Kat in ‘Marry Me,’ and proves that her public persona isn’t who she actually is as a person. Kat is a perfect representation of a well-meaning Hollywood performer who, on occasion, is misrepresented and misunderstood through promos and interviews in the press, and by the public on social media.

Like the audience, Lopez was also immediately able to connect with Kat’s struggles through the film’s emotionally relatable songs. ‘Marry Me,’ which includes nine original tracks, is also the first time that the Grammy Award-nominated artist was able to make an album of her own music with a movie.

Lopez collaborated with the romantic comedy’s music supervisor, Robin Urdang and composer, John Debney to create a soundtrack with heartbreak and healing, as Kat learns how to move on from unthinkable pain. Each tune has a narrative purpose and emotional depth that adds to the characters’ journeys throughout the movie.

From the titular ‘Marry Me’ to the melancholic ‘Love of My Life’ and anthemic power ballad ‘On My Way,’ the songs sung by Lopez as Kat infuse the film’s story with the inspirational message that there is hope in the wake of painful loss. ‘On My Way,’ the romantic comedy’s love theme, is a powerful standout track; Kat shows when she’s recording it as Kat in the movie that people can embrace the mistakes they’ve made in their lives.

Kat’s determination to move on with her life after she ends her personal relationship with Bastian is also shown through her surprising genuine connection with Charlie. Lopez and Wilson, who are longtime friends in real life, reunited for the first time on screen in ‘Marry Me’ since their cult classic 1997 action horror film, ‘Anaconda.’ The performers’ chemistry is just as palpable and authentic in their new movie as their first project together 25 years ago. Their chemistry is amplified by Wilson’s novel, more serious performance, which helps anchor the reality that despite society’s obsession with fame and fortune, most people don’t truly relate to, or understand, it.

‘Marry Me’ is an enthralling, captivating romantic comedy that masterfully blends the genre’s classic theme that true love conquers all, no matter what obstacles stand in a couple’s way, with the reality of how the struggles of modern fame can at times negatively impact people. From Lopez’s genuine performance of Kat as she endures a painful public break-up to the palpable chemistry Kat and Charlie share, and the relatable, memorable original tunes about heartbreak and healing, the film offers an overall astute commentary on modern society’s obsession with fame and fortune.

Technical: B

Acting: B+

Story: B+

Overall: B+

(From left): Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) and Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) in ‘Marry Me,’ directed by Kat Coiro. Photo Credit: Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures
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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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