Romantic Comedy Time Machine: I Rewatched "The Wedding Planner"

Mary breaks a dick off one of the sculptures and keeps it.
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Elinor Jones
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Mary breaks a dick off one of the sculptures and keeps it.

Good news! It’s time for another Rom-Com Time Machine!

This week, by popular demand, I watched "The Wedding Planner." This classic disaster flick came out in January of 2001. George W. Bush was getting inaugurated. J. Lo was still dating P. Diddy. Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? 

Cultural relevance aside, this is not a good movie.

J. Lo stars as Mary, an Italian woman in San Francisco. If you’re wondering if this challenges her acting chops, my response would be “Oh hey, what’s that over there?” and I wouldn’t actually answer because I try to focus on the positive. Sadly, that doesn’t give me a lot to say. (Oh, screw it, let’s get catty as hell.)

Mary is a Type-A bride who isn’t actually a bride. Guess what her job is? Banker! JK, she’s a wedding planner, obvs. When we meet her, Mary is blasting an earpiece with all sorts of official sounding things like “The FOB is MIA!” And she nails it! Because Mary rocks at weddings. Her hair is tightly coiffed. Her apartment is impeccable. But -- gasp! -- her personal life is in shambles.

Killin’ it. So coiffed!

Killin’ it. So coiffed!

Cut to J. Lo hanging out in her gorgeous apartment in San Francisco, watching "Antiques Roadshow" by herself; if they’re trying to make her seem pathetic, they blew it, because that looks like a great way to live. In her free time, Mary plays Scrabble with old people. Once again: yes please. One of the old Scrabblers introduces Mary to the dick-ish guy from "Grey’s Anatomy" who has THE WORST Italian accent I’ve ever heard. 

Okay, totally inconsequential thing that I’ve fixated on: Mary one days stops at a newsstand to buy a Yahoo! Internet Life glossy magazine. As in, the Internet site Yahoo! made a magazine to discuss things that happened on their Internet site, but on a monthly basis. So instead of using their popular website to publish articles about the Internet, they printed a freaking magazine. People didn’t have a firm grasp on how to effectively use the Internet in 2001. 

Mary meets Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey) when her shoe gets stuck in a street grate and a runaway dumpster nearly kills her. Steve is a handsome pediatrician. I’ve never met a pediatrician, let alone been saved by one when faced with imminent dumpster death, and because I’ve never experienced such a thing, I’m assuming it’s not actually possible.

Steve Edison seems to be several humanity steps above the charming sociopath that he played in "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days." Mary’s best pal, played by Judy Greer, somehow uses an issue about a fax cartridge to get Mary and Steve to hang out. A FAX CARTRIDGE EMERGENCY! This may have been the last fax cartridge emergency scenario ever captured on film.

Mary and Steve slow-dance in the park to some old-timey movie (older than fax machines) and eat brown M&Ms. A few wisps of Mary’s perfect hair escape. J. Lo employs her classic J. Lo babyvoice to talk about Scrabble. Then it rains, and the only thing sexier than regular J. Lo is a soaking wet J. Lo.

I’m sorry, I am clearly trying hard to insert some life into this post because this movie is boring as hell. Let’s take a moment to talk about how terrible Matthew McConaughey’s hair was! It looks like a large hamster was hollowed out and then wrapped around his skull. It looks like that episode of "Happy Endings" when Alex makes Penny the hair helmet. It’s Tootsie’s summer ‘do. He is a blond Walter Cronkite. He’s an extra in a John Waters film. He is Dawson’s older brother who tries too hard and makes all the girls uncomfortable. 

OK, back to this insane plot that does not contain a single event that would actually occur in a regular person’s daily life. 

Mary lands a huge wedding that will guarantee that she make partner at the wedding company. Guess who’s the groom? YEP. Freaking STEVE, the slow-dancing doctor of lies. Mary is sure their future marriage is doomed because he let her fall for him without saying he was engaged. I’m gonna have to agree with Mary on this one.

McConaughair. Yuck.

McConaughair. Yuck.

Even though Steve insists he’s way into his fiancée, he’s jealous of Mary’s non-relationship with that fake Italian and challenges him to feats of strength. (In my career as a film writer, that is probably the worst sentence I’ve ever written.) Then Mary and Steve and the Italian and the fiancée’s family go horseback-riding together. Can any readers out there who had fancy weddings tell me about the Group Horseback Riding Tradition? Or is that not a thing that exists? Because it shouldn’t be. Steve saves Mary again, this time from a horse instead of a dumpster. 

Horses: the dumpsters of livestock?

Horses: the dumpsters of livestock?

Mary’s dad is obsessed with her getting married. The dad also has a terrible Italian accent. I am concerned that they blew the budget on J. Lo’s hair and pink lip gloss and had nothing left for dialect coaches. Mary is like, "I’ll just be an emotionless robot lady forever, thanks."

Mary keeps helping with this fancy wedding because she needs to make partner. They shop for sculptures? Talk me through that one too, rich people. Mary breaks a dick off one of the sculptures and keeps it. Then they go flower shopping and run into Mary’s ex-fiancé who made out with some chick at their rehearsal dinner. Some of Mary’s issues are explained by this. 

Steve takes Mary out to get drunk after the unfortunate run-in. J. Lo is THE WORST at acting drunk! I firmly believe that the woman has never been a drunk mess before, which makes me relate to her even less. She sobers up while eating marshmallows and wearing a terrible halter top and Steve talks like he’s gonna make a move but Mary kicks him to the curb. A good decision from this one! Keep it up, Mary! In the following scene, Mary’s hair is back in the classic tight bun. Her hair is true the narrator of this film.

NGL, I was pretty drunk by this point in my movie-watching so my notes are all over the place. It’s because this movie is really boring and awful. If you want to take a break to fill up your glass, please do so. It does not get any better.

Mary opts to marry the goofy Italian guy because what the hell nothing makes sense anyway. He proposes via Scrabble tiles, which honestly is the only way I’d ever consider getting engaged again. Then there’s a montage of J. Lo making partner and doing more wedding stuff and even though I love montages I’m still mad at this. Everybody objects to J. Lo’s simple wedding to the Italian because it’s clearly a terrible idea. Mary wears a nice hat, though. More people should wear hats.

Guy is blurry but this hat is all that matters.

Guy is blurry but this hat is all that matters.

Meanwhile, Steve decides to bail on his perfect wedding. The bride is all “Oh, OK, sweet.” (Not joking. She seriously DGAF. The WP universe makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Or a statue.) Steve then is like, “Hmm, if I decide not to get married, I decide that nobody gets married!” and sets out to stop Mary. She, of course, is one step ahead of him in the last-minute-wedding-cancellation area. The Italian guy is like, “She lufs yew” so Mary and Steve make out and this terrible thing is over. Like, literally, 10 seconds after they kiss, end credits roll to “My Love Don’t Cost a Thing.” They don’t even try to pretend that this new, completely implausible and obviously doomed relationship is going to go anywhere. 

Phew. Our takeaway:

1. This movie sucks.

2. Matthew McConaughey is really lucky he got some good roles because if they used stills from this at the Oscars during the In Memoriam after he’s dead and gone, the audience would be like, blech, good riddance. What if they do anyway, just to be jerks? 

3. The classic rom-com immediate cut-away used here wasn’t just to leave us on a good note, but because film creators of this era were too lazy to make an impossible romance work for just five freaking minutes. See also: The Wedding Date.

4. Women, we can have it all, we just have to loosen our hair a little bit. 

5. I drink too much on weeknights but sometimes it’s necessary.

6. This might be the worst rom-com of an already-rough era. 

Thank you all for reading, but now let’s chug some mouthwash and start thinking about next time. Here’s a hint: it’s got the grand empress of the rom-com, the artist futurely known as Wolverine, and freaking TIME TRAVEL. See you soon!