‘Marry Me’: Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson Revive the Rom-Com Formula

The romantic comedy employs all the conventions of the genre and provides for a pleasant, enjoyable and lighthearted viewing experience



“Marry Me” is a great addition to the rom-com genre.


The genres dominating recent releases at the movie theaters in the coming weeks are action, thriller, children’s animation and comedy. The category that is noticeably lacking in the theatrical lineup is romantic comedy, a genre that is a cultural touchstone among moviegoers.

On Feb. 10, advanced screenings of Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson and Maluma’s romantic comedy film “Marry Me” premiered, providing an entertaining and engaging movie theater experience.  

The film marks Lopez’s return to the romantic comedy genre and Wilson’s brief departure from a slew of Wes Anderson films. Increasingly, as movies in the genre are released on streaming services, the two leads and film’s creators were tasked with executing a romantic comedy theatrical release alongside a pandemic and dwindling box office numbers.

She narrows in on an audience member holding a sign saying “Marry Me.”

The film is set in present-day New York City. Lopez plays Kat Valdez, a mega pop star who was set to perform a duet eponymously titled “Marry Me” with her fiancé and fellow pop star, Bastian (Maluma), until she learns that he was involved in an affair with her assistant. 

As Kat descends onto the stage and delivers a speech about the nature of love, she narrows in on an audience member holding a sign saying “Marry Me.” In a moment of impulsiveness, she chooses to marry that man. She later discovers that the poster holder is named Charlie (Wilson), a dedicated father and middle-school math teacher who was hauled to the stadium by his colleague and friend, Parker (Sarah Silverman), despite being averse to pop culture. 

As opposed to attributing Kat’s decision to the intensity of the moment, the two opt to remain married and adapt to each other’s lives. Kat attends Charlie’s school functions and math league practices, and Charlie agrees to participate in “Today Show” interviews and press conferences.

At a press conference where the two respond to inquiries questioning the authenticity of their relationship, the film’s social messaging is present — which is far from heavy-handed, preachy or attempts to be relevant — with an organic conversation on the history and societal nature of marriage. 

The chemistry between Lopez and Wilson is palpable throughout the movie, creating for a believable romantic dynamic throughout the remainder of the film. 

A particularly romantic scene that elicited a swoon from the audience occurred as Kat and Charlie were still adjusting to the flow of each other’s lives. Kat was abroad for a string of concerts, but she snuck in a phone call with Charlie. As the conversation comes to a close, Charlie notes that Kat can call him whenever she’s lonely. A few seconds after the phone call ends, Kat calls him back with the simple line: “I’m lonely.”

Aside from the light-hearted romance and conflict, the film is also composed of charming performances from the remaining cast members.

The central conflict in the film is Charlie’s perceived incompatibility with Kat’s life and inability to adjust to her lifestyle. This plot device is predictable and foreseeable yet perfectly paced. And in an era of film in which romantic comedies range from dabbling in science fiction to incorporating twists on historical romances, the film proves that the rom-com formula of the ’90s to the early 2000s is still believable and natural. 

Aside from the light-hearted romance and conflict, the film is also composed of charming performances from the remaining cast members. 

Kat’s manager, Collin (John Bradley), serves as a surprisingly compassionate confidant and friend who reassures her in the immediate aftermath of marrying Charlie, subverting the trope of the money-grubbing, callous and indifferent talent manager. Charlie’s precocious daughter, Lou (Chloe Coleman), encourages especially tender moments between Wilson and Lopez. Even Maluma, who has little-to-no acting experience, gives a commendable performance. 

Throughout the movie, there are glamorous emblems of the film’s setting, New York City, like sweeping views of the city’s skyline from Kat’s bathroom in her high-rise Manhattan penthouse to the ambient atmosphere of a midtown rooftop party. Even Charlie’s Brooklyn loft is swanky and modern and features exposed brick, forcing the viewer to suspend their disbelief that a single, public school math teacher could afford such a place. 

The parallels between Kat’s life and those of prominent female celebrities are clear.

The film comments on the notion of modern-day celebrity, with Kat’s entire life documented for the public through Snapchat, a videographer and incessant Instagram livestreams. She is continuously swarmed by paparazzi and crowds, and her personal life is mocked and misunderstood by late-night talk show hosts. 

One can’t help but wonder if the film serves as a biopic for Lopez’s own life or the lives of other female celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, whose histories have been critiqued by the public eye. Especially when Kat comments on her past dating history, including a music producer and a 48-hour marital stint, the parallels between her life and those of prominent female celebrities are clear.

Ultimately, the film is a collection of tender and crowd-pleasing moments, delivering a satisfying degree of closure. Similarly to how Marvel or big-budget action movies leave the audience with an amplified and magnified conclusion that inspires viewers to conquer their fears, “Marry Me” inspires the audience to follow their romantic pursuits and deeply connect with those around them.