Since stumbling across the trailer for “Marry Me” on Twitter and seeing it again and again in the past few months, I knew I had to see the movie itself.

The premise is too insane not to be intrigued by. Based on a graphic novel of the same name, “Marry Me” casts Jennifer Lopez as pop superstar Kat Valdez, who plans to marry her famous fiancé during a massive concert livestreamed to 20 million people. But before the two can tie the knot, Kat discovers that her fiancé has been cheating on her. Betrayed and embarrassed, she picks a stranger from the crowd to get married to instead. That stranger happens to be middle-school math teacher Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), who had been dragged to the concert by his best friend and his daughter.

The trailer seems to give the whole movie away, but no one is going to see a romantic comedy to be surprised by the plot. I certainly didn’t. On Valentine’s Day, I went to see it with the lowest of expectations. I anticipated a movie that was so-bad-it’s-good, but it was actually good. It was incredibly fun and charming, and I left the theater beaming.

J.Lo plays an incredible lead. She is magnetic on the screen. Her personal life has been tabloid fodder for decades, and this movie seems to be a way for her to take back her own narrative. She puts all of herself into this character. It makes sense; J.Lo has also been the victim of a public cheating scandal with her ex-fiancé, Alex Rodriguez, and the public eye views her as having been with many men who have devalued her and underestimated her. When her character tells Charlie that she’s been twice divorced and has never been able to find a good partner, you almost see the real J.Lo shining through.

The role of Kat Valdez is a perfect fit for J.Lo in other aspects as well. When she visits Charlie’s students during their math club and leads them in a dance to help get rid of their nerves, you can peep some of “Jenny from the Block.” When she adorns the gorgeous gowns and outrageous concert outfits, you see the fashion icon Jennifer Lopez. When she’s in the studio singing and jotting down song lyrics, you see the chart-topping singer Jennifer Lopez. 

Owen Wilson is also incredibly charismatic as her love interest, Charlie. He is genuinely kind and decent. He initially only accepts Kat’s proposal because he does not want to further humiliate her during the most nightmarish moment in her life. He may be a bit bland, but bland is what Kat needs. 

When they begin falling for each other, it’s done sweetly. Their chemistry is palpable, but the movie remains chaste. The only hint of sexuality we get is in a “morning after” scene where Kat is already dressed and making work phone calls. The viewer roots for the two leads, and when the inevitable conflict arises, I found myself wishing they had discarded plot conventions just so I could see more of Kat and Charlie being happy together until the movie concluded.

This movie does have its flaws though. In the romance, it feels that Kat is giving more of herself than Charlie is. In a scene, Charlie bets Kat that she cannot live without social media or her various assistants, essentially jeopardizing her job. All Kat asks in return is that Charlie open up some social media accounts. He also tells Kat that she’s beautiful without makeup and hair extensions, which teetered too close to a cliche nice guy-ism, only kept away by Owen Wilson’s charm.

But that’s just a minor nitpick. The movie was genuine and had massive amounts of heart. Good rom-coms are joyful and good for the soul. It’s hot chocolate on a cold, snowy day. It leaves you happy. It reminded me why I love rom-coms so much. Hopefully, “Marry Me” sees box office success and can stand as a proud representation of what a rom-com should be.



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