The Wedding Planner
The Wedding Planner

USA, 2001. Rated PG-13. 102 minutes.

Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Justin Chambers, Judy Greer, Alex Rocco, Joanna Gleason, Charles Kimbrough, Kevin Pollak, Fred Willar, Lou Myers, Frances Bay, Kathy Najimy
Writers: Pamela Falk & Michael Ellis
Music: Mervyn Warren
Cinematographer: Julio Macat
Producers: Peter Abrams, Deborah Del Prete, Jennifer Gibgot, Robert L. Levy, Gigi Pritzker
Director: Adam Shankman


Grade: C Review by Claudia Smurthwaite

For those familiar with weddings and wedding favors, The Wedding Planner could be considered the Jordan Almond of romantic comedies. It looks nice, the coating is sweet, but the inside is a bit stale.

"Those who can, do, those who can't, teach, and those that can't wed, plan"–that is the mantra of Mary (Jennifer Lopez), who started out by planning weddings for Ken and Barbie, and is now one of San Francisco's top wedding planners. With military precision, Mary orchestrates events, soothes nervous brides, sobers up the FOB (Father of the Bride), and creates cleavage with clothespins. Her clients depend on her, and her co-workers are amazed by her ability to handicap the longevity of a marriage based on the bride's choice of color scheme or first song.

For all of her professional success, Mary has yet to find "the one." She dines alone while watching The Antiques Roadshow and busies herself in her off hours playing tournament Scrabble with her father (Alex Rocco) and his cronies. Though Pop enjoys the Scrabble playing, he's worried about his single daughter and arranges a marriage for her with Massimo (Justin Chambers), a boy she met as a child while visiting Italy. How old country. Massimo is immediately smitten with Mary, and Mary is flabbergasted that her father would do such a thing, but Pop figures it worked for Mary's mother and him, so...

In hopes of becoming a partner in her firm, Mary sets out to land the wedding of the year–that of the daughter of an internet sausage mogul (?!). To woo the bride's family, Mary arranges to meet them at one of her weddings. Fran (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras), the bride-to-be, is impressed when she sees Mary feeding the best man the perfect toast through an earpiece from the catering tent. Mary is hired! She's on her way to becoming partner when, rushing to an appointment, her shoe gets stuck in a manhole cover just as a dumpster comes barreling down the street–oh no! But wait, dashing in just in the knick of time is Steve (McConaughey) to save Mary and her shoe. Yay! McConaughey and Lopez

As a precaution, Steve takes Mary to the hospital, where she wakes up in the pediatric ward and discovers that her hero is Doctor Steve Edison, pediatrician. At the invitation of Penny, Mary's assistant, Steve joins them for a movie in Golden Gate Park. Penny begs off, leaving Steve and Mary to enjoy the movie, and sparks fly as they dance in the park. Mary is falling for the doctor. Yay! She floats through the next few days as she plans Fran's wedding.

Together since college, Fran and her fiancé, the as-yet-unseen Eddie, seem to be an ideal match. Both are smart, successful and attractive, what more can you ask for in your spouse-to-be? Well, being able to dance would be nice. So Fran, she of the two left feet, arranges dancing lessons for herself and Eddie, and who should they run into at the studio, but Mary. Uh oh, Eddie is Fran's pet name for Steve. Mary is crushed, but she's a professional and won't let a little thing like falling in love with the groom get in the way of planning Fran's wedding, right?

Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey look great and share a nice on-screen rapport. Bridgette Wilson-Sampras (OK, so you married the number one tennis player in the world, but that hyphenate is a bit unwieldy) has the thankless job of playing the fiancée. She makes Fran intelligent and driven, but not to the point that you hate her.

McConaughey does what he does best, flashing that lopsided grin and aww-shucks attitude. Lopez has shown that she can sizzle onscreen in Out of Sight (1998) and her highly regarded turn in Selena (1997). After The Cell (2000), The Wedding Planner is a nice change of pace for Lopez. Sure, it's a cotton-candy confection and whether it's dancing with McConaughey or getting to know her Italian "fiancé," Lopez is charming, though somewhat unbelievable as the unlucky in love Mary–she's Jennifer Lopez fer chissakes! The Wedding Planner is probably a rental at best. Save for the gorgeous San Francisco scenery, it will play just as well on a TV screen.

Review © February 2001 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Images © 2000 Columbia TriStar Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

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