`Wedding' has some engaging moments

Review: Lopez and McConaughey couldn't have planned for a more paltry - and endearing - romance.

January 26, 2001|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Call it clever marketing or calculated artistry but "The Wedding Planner" has all the ingredients of an irresistible chick-flick.

Whether they admit to it or not, women in the audience likely will want to be Jennifer Lopez, smooch Matthew McConaughey and also watch scene after scene of wedding planning stuffed with breathtaking bridal gowns, darling bridesmaids' dresses and misty-eyed walks down the aisle.

It doesn't matter that "The Wedding Planner" is one of the cheesiest and most predictable romances in a while. I suspect I won't be the only woman who sees this movie and publicly criticizes it but then furtively scurries to Amazon.com to order it on DVD.

Let's face it, girls, the Jennifer-Matthew-wedding trifecta renders us helpless.

The talented Ms. Lopez - ubiquitous this week with the Tuesday release of her second album, "J.Lo" - stars as Mary Fiore, an ambitious wedding planner in San Francisco who assembles matrimonies with the crisp efficiency of a Secret Service agent. (On the big day, she even strides around the church with an earpiece, quietly barking orders to minions.)

Mary had her heart broken six years before, hasn't dated in two years and has turned wedding planning into such an exact science she can tell how long a couple will stay together based on the wedding song they pick. (Olivia Newton-John's "I Honestly Love You" buys them, oh, 14 months.)

Enter the rakishly handsome Dr. Steve Edison, who has great hair, a radiant, cheeky smile and a sexy Southern accent. He also swoops in to save Mary in numerous situations that somehow land them in compromising situations. (He pushes her aside to escape a runaway Dumpster, and he ends up on top of her with their lips almost touching.(He rescues her from a frightened horse and whaddya know, they end up straddling the same horse, tightly holding on to each other ... you get the point.)

The catch is, Steve is getting married to Internet super-tycoon Fran Donolly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras), and his wedding planner is - gasp, what a shock this is - Mary! Throw in the subplot of Mary's bumbling dad (Alex Rocco) trying to marry her off to her dufus of a childhood buddy Massimo (Justin Chambers) and you've got somewhat sufficient fodder for semi-humorous high jinks and an ounce of the requisite will-they-end-up-together tension.

In "The Wedding Planner," director Adam Shankman - whose movie experience includes choreographing comedy scenes in "Inspector Gadget" and "Forces of Nature" - brings us a formulaic film that moves slowly at times and doesn't veer far from the oft-trodden path of cheesy romances. And it's not entirely believable - come on, a woman like Jennifer Lopez not having a date in two years? What hope is there for the rest of us?

Yet despite the film's flaws and unfortunate dearth of depth and smart dialogue, the sexy Lopez and the charming McConaughey are so likable and have such great chemistry they manage to make the "The Wedding Planner" a thoroughly enjoyable flick.

Lopez, especially, shows a surprisingly natural flair for comedy, adroitly conveying herself as equal parts totally hot woman and geeky girl-next-door. Plus, it's refreshing to see a minority like Lopez in a romantic lead that could just as easily have gone to actresses such as Meg Ryan or Sandra Bullock.

One disappointment: Lopez plays an Italian-American in the film, an ethnic detail that has little to do with the story. So it seems that Mary easily could have been written as Hispanic - which would have suggested that Hollywood perhaps has progressed to the point where a minority actress doesn't have to "pass" anymore to play a lead role in a mainstream romantic comedy.

`The Wedding Planner'

Starring Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey

Directed by Adam Shankman

Released by Columbia Pictures

Running time 100 minutes

Rated PG-13

Sun score: ** 1/2

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