This disappointing would-be romantic comedy is neither comic nor particularly romantic. Its biggest problem is a sitcom-style script with too much emphasis on the situation and not enough on the comedy. It fails to create a single believable or sympathetic character. What it gives us instead is a string of barely related skits about people whose behavior ranges from inconsistent to random. The result ranges from dull to annoying, with the few comic bits already overly familiar to us from the commercials.
Jennifer Lopez is a talented and attractive performer, but she does not have the acting or comedy skills to transcend the limits of the script. She looks beautiful, but a little remote and unsympathetic.
Lopez plays Mary, a wedding planner who is so organized that she has all the essentials strapped to her belt, including smelling salts and superglue. She is also so cynical that she can predict the length of the marriage based on the song selected by the couple (“I Honestly Love You” is a bad sign). Mary is supremely competent and confident at work, negotiating for a partnership in the firm if she can land an assignment for a dot-com zillionaire bride Fran (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras). But at home, Mary eats alone in front of the TV, watching “Antiques Roadshow.”
Prince Charming arrives in the person of Matthew McConaughey as Steve, a pediatrician who saves Mary from an onrushing dumpster. They go out with Mary’s friend for a movie and a dance under the stars, and Mary is smitten.
Then she discovers that Steve is Fran’s groom-to-be. How cute is that! Not very. Meanwhile, Mary’s father (Alex Rocco, who struggles valiently with the unforgiveably hackneyed role of choleric ethnic dad who just wants his daughter to get married) is trying to fix her up with a horrendous loser from the homeland.
There is no real narrative, only different locations for the characters to get into faux-adorable fixes. Here’s one example: Mary and Steve knock over a nude male statue and his genitals break off. Much hoped-for hilarity but no actual laughs ensue as they try to glue it back on. Here’s another example: Mary and Steve run into Mary’s former beau and Mary hides under a table to avoid him. But they run into him (with his pregnant wife) anyway, and Mary responds by getting drunk. Two weddings have to be disrupted before it can all get straightened out and even that never-fail standard of the romantic comedy drags on until we can go home to find something better to watch on UPN.
Parents should know that the movie includes some strong and graphic language (typical of PG-13’s, that means one F-word and scattered lesser words). The movie includes comic drunkenness and a character’s alcohol abuse is also played for laughs. The scene with the statue includes a fairly graphic depiction of male genitals, which at one point get superglued to a character’s hand.
Families who see this movie should talk about how we know when we have met the person we truly love. Was the behavior of the main characters responsible? What hardships did their behavior impose on others? How is what Mary does to Massemo different from what her old boyfriend did to her? Families should also discuss Mary’s reaction to seeing her old boyfriend with his pregnant wife. First she hides, then she embarasses him, and then she gets drunk. Why does she behave this way? How could she have behaved in a way that preserved her dignity and self-respect?
Mary describes herself as a “control freak.” Families should talk about the way that people who have been hurt sometimes try to protect themselves by exercising a lot of control. Families may also want to ask why Lopez, an Hispanic actress, played an Italian character. Was it because audiences might feel more comfortable with a WASP-Italian romance than with WASP-Hispanic?
Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the superior, “The Runaway Bride.”