The Wedding Planner
review by Gregory Avery, 26 January 2001

I found myself thoroughly enjoying the serene quality of the romantic scenes involving Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner. McConaughey shows an easy, assured, and even beautifully felt quality in this picture that I have not seen him display in the past, while there's a warm, graceful quality to Lopez's work that is most welcome after the dour, intimidated-looking performance she gave in the thoroughly grotesque The Cell, where she was pursued or menaced during one awful-looking scene after another by  polymorphously perverse creatures whom you either couldn't see very well or didn't feel like you really wanted to have a good look at.

Here, Lopez plays Mary, who designs and adroitly organizes and coordinates even the most fiendishly complicated formal wedding ceremonies while, of course, not having a man of her own in her life. She meets Steve (played by McConaughey), a pediatrician, and they seem to have the right chemistry together. Then she meets the bride, Fran (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras), for whom Mary has arranged to create a forthcoming wedding, and Fran's fiancé -- Steve. Complications ensue.

Or, they're supposed to. The film leaves absolutely no doubt from the beginning that Mary and Steve will somehow end up together in the end. The problem is that there's not very much mystery as to how they will do so. The film is set up on a handful of very predictable plot points with not much of anything in between, so the filmmakers vamp madly to try to, unsuccessfully, take up the slack. There is Massimo, who is played by Justin Chambers with a comic Italian accent that is not only tiresome to listen to but is supposed to clue us in to the fact that he's all wrong for Mary, yet he is continually flung at her by well-meaning family and friends in an attempt to match her up. At one point, contrivances send Mary galloping off through the Napa, California countryside on a runaway horse, only to be rescued by Steve; when he brings her back, in what looks like a compromising position on Steve's saddle, the other characters just sit there staring dumbly into space. (Imagine what Billy Wilder would have done with a scene like this: "Saddle-sore, my dear?") On several occasions, Fran repeatedly warns her mother that she will not be allowed to sing at her wedding: this is comic only because Fran's mother is played by Joanne Gleason, who's not only an excellent actress but was justly celebrated for her performance on-Broadway in Stephen Sondheim's musical Into the Woods. (Gleason is just barely in the movie, as it now stands, and there are also tiny, tiny appearances by Kevin Pollak and Kathy Najimy, in roles that look like they might have been much longer during an earlier incarnation.)

Then there is the scene involving Krazy-Glue and a gag with a statue that wasn't funny when it was used fifteen years ago in The Goonies. One of the endearing qualities of Lopez's character is that she is prepared for any occasion, whether it's mending things with glue or rectifying mishaps that are caused by it. I was mostly glad that Lopez wasn't being chased by any serpent-haired demons while watching her gently free Matthew McConaughey's hand from the piece of statuary to which it had become affixed.

Click here to read Cynthia Fuchs' interview.

Directed by:
Adam Shankman

Jennifer Lopez
Matthew McConaughey
Bridgette Wilson-Sampras
Justin Chambers
Judy Greer
Joanna Gleason
Alex Rocco

Written by:
Pamela Falk
 Michael Ellis

PG-13 - Parents
Strongly Cautioned
Some material ma
be inappropriate for
children under 13





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