The besties review
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Cinema took its first steps roughly 135 years ago with Louis Le Prince’s 3-second shot of some well-dressed folks walking through a garden, and it has been sprinting forward ever since. New stories, techniques, acting styles and genres developed over time, expanding to audiences across the world. Soon bigger became better, with monstrous budgets, elaborate sets and mega-sized movie stars leading us into the modern blockbuster era. But recently it feels like movies have become more homogenized—using and reusing, adapting and re-adapting, remaking and rebooting—so it’s truly a wonder we get anything original nowadays. Yet when I took my seat at the movie theater late last year and witnessed the first trailer for a J-Lo/Owen Wilson/Maluma love triangle romantic comedy adapted from a graphic novel, I had never seen anything like it.
Who was expecting this? Or maybe an even better question, who was expecting this to actually be good? I may not be a huge fan of the rom-com genre, but I’m also not afraid to admit when I’ve fallen in love. So here I am admitting it: Marry Me is an utterly delightful picture.
One of the first things you should know about Marry Me is that it is more sophisticated than its memeable trailer suggests. Though the film inevitably plays into many classic rom-com tropes, the script deftly balances its cheesiness with charm and consideration, allowing its leading pair to have refreshingly “real” conversations in between some of the schockier plot mechanics. The film is also frequently funny (which I will attribute to longtime comedy writer/producer Tami Sagher co-writing the script) and Kat Coiro’s direction is stylish and smooth. Some might even venture to say that Marry Me is shockingly well-directed, but a quick scroll through Coiro’s IMDb page should illuminate the fact that she has been quietly killing it as a TV director for the past decade. Her credits include episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Modern Family, Dead to Me and Girls5eva, as well as the upcoming MCU series She-Hulk, on which she is also an executive producer. It certainly won’t be winning Coiro any major awards, but for a Peacock Original romantic comedy, Marry Me feels efficiently and effortlessly directed.
To take a step back from my appraisal of the film’s technical elements, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a quick summary of the film’s admittedly ridiculous premise. Kat Valdez (J-Lo) is a mega famous pop star who is about to marry her fiancé, Bastian (Maluma), live at a stadium concert. Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) is a mild-mannered math teacher and single father attending the concert with his daughter. But when Kat finds out that Bastian has cheated on her just minutes before they are supposed to tie the knot, she throws caution to the wind and invites some random guy onto the stage to marry her instead—can you guess who??
It’s all pretty absurd, but at least they acknowledge it! Charlie is extremely reluctant (as he should be) to go through with the impromptu marriage, but Kat’s team of managers and assistants convince him it would be good for her image, and even his own daughter urges him to roll with it. Kat and Charlie slowly get to know each other and (would you believe it?) eventually fall in love.
It may be predictable, but it’s also well-executed, especially when it comes to the performances and the script. Jennifer Lopez is convincing as Kat Valdez, a pop star and media sensation who spends most of her time trying to maintain a pristine social image, and Owen Wilson is equally perfect as her affable photo-op companion who remains kind, funny, resourceful and supportive, despite not understanding the complexities of living your life in the public eye. The supporting cast also boasts a number of solid performances that suit the film quite well, including Sarah Silverman, Chloe Coleman and John Bradley.
At a time where every movie feels like a rip-off, remake or reboot, Marry Me shines as something that blends its tried and true genre tropes with original writing and fully realized characters—oh, and did I mention that the movie just turns into a J-Lo music video every once and a while? But all of that aside, I think the best thing I can say is that I had a smile plastered on my face for nearly the entire film, and when it was over I strongly considered watching it all over again. So, Marry Me…?
Say yes, yes, YES! ★ ★ ★ ½
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