You might have noticed a pattern in the latest installments of The Film Canon. Being February and Valentine’s Day around the corner, I felt compelled to revisit many of the romantic comedies I adored as a teenager. The Wedding Planner may not be the greatest gift to cinema, but I know plenty of my friends and I regard it as a rom-com classic.
One of the things that surprises me the most about re-watching rom-coms from the early 2000s is how they don’t really hold up as well, yet, there are parts of them that still make the films enjoyable to watch. The Wedding Planner, starring pre “Jenny from the Block” Jennifer Lopez and pre-Oscar-winning Matthew McConaughey, is a prime example of that kind of rom-com. Maybe it’s me growing up and discovering a new and real perspective on romantic relationships, but The Wedding Planner is not the same movie I watched at 12 years old.
“Those who don’t wed, plan!”
Jennifer Lopez stars as Mary Fiore, a successful wedding planner whose unlucky when it comes to love. During a mishap on the street, Mary is saved by Steve Edison (McConaughey), an attractive pediatrician. Mary’s nosy assistant (Judy Greer) sets Mary and Steve on a date, and they hit it off until… Mary finds out that he is the groom for one of the weddings she’s planning. That sets up a series of comedic and awkward scenarios, including Mary being set up in an arranged marriage by her father with an Italian stranger (played by Grey’s Anatomy’s Justin Chambers).
Jennifer Lopez shines as the perfectionist wedding planner, and of all the romantic comedies she has starred in, she shares the most chemistry with McConaughey, whose utterly charming screen presence is in full force. They are the main reasons why The Wedding Planner is a joy to watch.
The film’s overall plot feels quite antiquated. The strange arranged marriage subplot hardly works. It fails to be funny and Chambers’s over-exaggerated accent only makes things worse. It’s too unreal for a movie that already stretching reality and relationship expectations. It’s shame that it takes up a majority of the movie, being used solely to make Steve jealous and act upon that feeling. There are other ways the main couple could have found their way to each other.
Props are deserved for not turning Steve’s fiancee into a villain. She’s kind and understanding, far from being a Bridezilla cliche. It’s really Steve who is shady for going after something with Mary when he is engaged. Eventually, you forgive him, but none of the blame goes on his fiancee, and in the end, she gets the raw end of deal, getting broken up with the day of her wedding.
The Wedding Planner may have swept us off our feet when it first came out, but time and wisdom taints much of the film. Lucky for the film, the performances and chemistry between the two leads give us a reason to rewatch it from time to time.