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Jennifer Lopez as Kat Valdez and Owen Wilson as Charlie Gilbert in Marry Me.Photo Credit: Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures/Universal Pictures

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Marry Me

Directed by Kat Coiro

Written by Harper Dill and John Rogers, based on the comic by Bobby Crosby

Starring Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson and Sarah Silverman

Classification PG; 112 minutes

Opens in theatres Feb. 11

Even in these days of franchise dominance – when familiar intellectual property, not faces, rule the screen – there is something to be said for the value of star power. Take Marry Me, a new rom-com that would be grounds for divorce if it weren’t for the presence of Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, two performers who know how to turn on the charm and comfort audiences just by virtue of showing their well-loved visages.

Lopez, who hasn’t appeared onscreen since 2019′s Hustlers (another movie that would’ve evaporated without the actress’s participation), stars in Marry Me as … well, Jennifer Lopez. Playing a pop star who is involved in a tabloid-friendly romance with a fellow celebrity, J. Lo gives the film a giant wink and nod to her own biography, while at the same time reminding moviegoers that she’s also a hell of a singer (approximately 25 per cent of Marry Me’s run-time is devoted to Lopez singing, turning the film into an extra-long series of music videos; this isn’t a complaint).

The film’s story kicks off when Lopez, I mean, Kat Valdez finds out that her fiancé Bastien (Colombian musician Maluma) is cheating on her … just before the two are set to get married live onstage in front of thousands. Heartbroken and confused, Kat picks out a random stranger from the crowd, high school math teacher/single father/aw-shucks nice guy Charlie (Wilson), and coerces him into exchanging vows instead for social-media engagement. But what starts off as a PR stunt slowly turns into a full-fledged (spoiler alert?) romance, with Kat and Charlie growing closer despite their two wildly different worlds.

It is all especially dumb, with screenwriters Harper Dill and John Rogers lazily treating the rom-com genre as one fit for lowered expectations – an approach that is not only insulting to the many great rom-coms that have come before their film, but of their intended audiences, too. There is nothing wrong with wanting to watch two beautiful people fall in love onscreen, but you get the sense that Marry Me’s creators hold a not-insignificant disdain for, or perhaps ignorance of, the genre. Jokes don’t work, characters don’t evolve, and although blessed with a neat concept, there isn’t much frisson between Charlie’s humble everyday world and Kat’s high-flying extravagance.

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It’s best to embrace what Lopez and Wilson pull off in Marry Me.Photo Credit: Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures/Universal Pictures

Thank Harry and Sally, then, that Lopez and Wilson got involved. The two don’t scream heaven-made match on paper, but together, they compliment each other nicely. As Marry Me’s story stretches on – complete with one-note side characters like Sarah Silverman’s guidance counsellor/Charlie BFF – you might be tempted to imagine how the movie might play if the stars were mixed and matched (what about Lopez and Seth Rogen, or Lady Gaga and Paul Rudd?). But it’s best to embrace what Lopez and Wilson pull off. Annul everything else about Marry Me, but these two are worth staying with till death (or end credits) do we depart.

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