The Wedding Planner

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Perhaps I was just in a bad mood. Or maybe I had been forced into that mood by the bland lameness that had already permeated “The Wedding Planner.” But there was a point in this film when I actually began talking to the screen, which I never do. (The theater was nearly empty, by the way, so don’t worry about my bothering other patrons.)

It was at the point when the title character, the cute but unlucky-at-love Mary (Jennifer Lopez), was visiting a possible site for an upcoming wedding with the bride- and groom-to-be. She already fell in love with the groom, you see; once she found out he was engaged (and a client!), she got real pouty and spiteful.

As fate would have it, the ridiculous Italian stereotype that her aging father has convinced to marry her shows up on the scene, announcing that Mary is his fiancee (even though Mary very clearly told him “no” ages ago). The groom-to-be whom Mary has the hots for is quite interested to know this, of course, since he got a stern talking-to from her when she found out HE was engaged. Quite a hypocrite, this Mary! Quite a temptress and a harlot indeed! And imagine the wackiness that will ensue when the man Mary is in love with thinks she’s engaged when really she’s not! Everyone will start treating the Italian guy like her fiance! Such comedy!

This is where I started talking to the movie. “Just say, ‘We’re not engaged,'” I said in a low voice. Instead, all the characters kept talking about how happy they were for Mary and Italian Guy. Mary kept opening her mouth to speak but getting interrupted. “Just say, ‘We’re not engaged,'” I said, a little louder. I couldn’t believe the movie was actually going to hinge a major plot point on something as stupid as Mary’s unwillingness to make her voice heard. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.

And that, my friends, is symptomatic of why “The Wedding Planner” is a pathetic movie. It’s a realistic movie in the sense that there are no fantasy elements, no fairy godmothers, no explosions and no aliens. It’s meant to be grounded in reality — which is why romantic comedies are generally successful, because the women in the audience can think, “This could happen to ME!,” and the men in the audience can think, “Hey, maybe I could score with Jennifer Lopez!”

Yet, “The Wedding Planner” relies almost entirely on improbable (and even impossible) events and circumstances to propel its weak, simpering little plot. Mary’s failure to say “We’re not engaged” is just one example. In another scene, while everyone’s horseback-riding, Mary’s horse is spooked and the groom-to-be, Eddie (Matthew McConaughey), has to ride to her rescue. Quite a romantic notion indeed. But what spooked her horse? The bride-to-be’s mother’s horrific singing voice.

This is a romantic comedy in a broad farce’s clothing, and it doesn’t fit worth a darn. Lovesick Italians and potential arranged marriages CAN be funny, and so can a woman who wants to sabotage a wedding so she can have the groom to herself. (We know that’s funny because we already saw it in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”) But they’re not funny here, where there’s no acknowledgment that not a bit of it is original, and everything is played as if the movie is the cleverest thing in the world for thinking of this stuff.

Lopez and McConaughey are charming, as they tend to be. Lopez is not the least bit adept at doing comedy — but, then, this is hardly a comedy anyway. See it with a date and hope you get some action afterward. Other than that, there’s no reason to see it at all.

C- (; PG-13, some strong profanity, mild sexual innuendo.)

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