The Wedding Planner



US 2001
dir Adam Shankman
scr Pamela Falk, Michael Ellis
cin Julio Macat
102 mins
stars Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Jane Greer

The best thing that can be said about The Wedding Planner is that it’s better than Lopez’s last vehicle, The Cell – just. This is a flaccidly bland romantic comedy in which J.Lo is Mary Fiore, the best wedding planner in the best in the business, plotting and executing San Francisco’s high-society nuptials with military efficiency. And, of course, her own lovelife is predictably disorganised and uneventful. Until she (literally) bumps into doe-eyed paediatrician Steve (McConaughey), and they enjoy a romantic evening out, dancing at an open-air movie. Next day Lopez discovers Steve, rather than being the unattached man of her dreams, is marrying one of her clients (Wilson-Sampras) at the biggest wedding of the year, one which Mary hopes will secure a vital promotion. Meanwhile, her dad (Alex Rocco), eager for heirs, has dragged Lopez’s childhood boyfriend Massimo (Justin Chambers) over from Italy with matchmaking in mind…

The premise – looking at how professional women juggle careers and personal lives – while hardly original, has some potential, and The Wedding Planner starts off on a bright note with Lopez unflappably co-ordinating a tricky ceremony, barking complicated technical instructions to her underlings via a headset-microphone. But the trouble begins when McConaughey shows up – it isn’t that he gives a bad performance, it’s just that he and Lopez never manage to generate much chemistry. Their open-air dance – interrupted, in typically lazy Hollywood style, by an instant downpour – is borderline embarrassing, while their enjoyment of M&Ms is product placement at its most shameless. Wilson-Sampras is stuck in a one-note role, roughly equivalent to Cameron Diaz’s character from My Best Friends’ Wedding, the movie whose success The Wedding Planner so calculatedly tries to emulate.

Director Shankman complacently joins the dots, relying on endless ‘comic’ music to kill what few laughs the actors fish out of the old-fashioned script, while criminally underusing San Francisco’s photogenic locations – What’s Up Doc? it ain’t. By the end, you’d be forgiven for turning your back on weddings, which seem like enormous palaver, if not on romance itself… As for Lopez, neither she nor Chambers’ Massimo are ever remotely convincing as Italians, but at least she doesn’t sing. All the same, this is two duds in a row – profitable duds, but duds all the same – and Out of Sight suddenly seems like a long, long, long time ago.

31st January, 2001