“The Wedding Planner,” which is most certainly slated as a date movie, has belittled itself to less than a chick flick. Even I, a huge fan of romantic comedies, must admit that this film was far from enchanting. The premise is simple: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl falls in love with boy, girl plans boy”s wedding. Unfortunately, the film is never more than a cookie-cutter version of the classic story of romance with terrible timing.
We are introduced to Mary Fiore (Jennifer Lopez), a control freak wedding planner, who is putting the finishing touches on one of her weddings. She wears a wireless headset, carries all kinds of emergency gear under her suit, and can fix the dress of a bridesmaid. Mary looks like she could be backstage pampering to the many desires of J.Lo. Yet, the scene works as a mockery of what has become a major industry in America planning parties.
What the audience finds out is that Mary may be a hopeless romantic when it comes to planning weddings, but whose idea of an after-work date includes a spruced-up TV dinner and vacuuming the baseboards of her apartment. As she explains, “those who can”t do, teach those who can”t wed, plan.” Yet, it seems that there is hope on the horizon. Mary, late for a meeting with clients, gets her shoe caught and is nearly killed by a runaway dumpster. Our fair hero, Dr. Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey), saves not only Mary”s life but her new Gucci shoes as well.
There is some attempt at humor with a bed ridden Mary and jokes about her big neck (I can only assume it is a reference to Lopez”s famously large behind). However, these are put aside quickly for the inevitable love-at-first-sighting between Mary and Steve. The duo goes on a date and further falls in love.
What makes the rest of the film so hard to stomach, beside the dialogue and hackneyed plot, is that there is no convincing chemistry between Lopez and McConaughey. Lopez does her best to look longingly at Steve, and in all fairness to her, I believe the fault lies with McConaughey. His almost kiss that is supposed to represent the culmination to the best night of his life looks more like indigestion from M&Ms.
Needless to say this would not be the movies if they did not include inconveniences to the love affair. As it turns out, Dr. Steve Edison is the groom-to-be in the wedding that Mary”s career is hinged on.
Steve is engaged to marry Fran Donnelley (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras), daughter of the nouveau riche and the most sought after client in the Bay area. Mary stays with the wedding even after finding out Steve”s secret because she prides herself on being a professional who can manage the challenge. The film writes off Steve”s indiscretion of going to a movie and dancing with Mary as cold feet even though we all know it is true love.
Meanwhile as a miserable side story we have Mary”s father (Alex Rocco), who sounds like he is deaf even though it is supposed to be an Italian accent, trying to set Mary up with her long-lost Italian childhood playmate. This part of the story is unnecessary and just plain stupid.
“The Wedding Planner” is not a great love story and is even harder to stomach than the usual romantic comedy. But in its defense, the two stars do their best to make up for the clich-ridden story line.