Film Reviews

THE WEDDING PLANNER

By • Jan 26th, 2001 •

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There isn’t an actress in Hollywood who doesn’t want Julia Roberts’ career. Roberts’ trajectory is like a template for success, power, and industry respect. So it’s a logical step that Jennifer Lopez now segues into the romantic comedy genre. Unfortunately, THE WEDDING PLANNER is trite, unfunny, and a predictable bore. If you’ve seen the trailer – don’t bother. The trailer tells the entire story. There are no surprises here.

Let’s not forget that Julia Roberts played a bitch in MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING (and a temperamental movie star in NOTTING HILL). It was obvious why the gorgeous, successful character Roberts played in BEST FRIEND had not married or had a significant relationship: she was a self-centered bitch. Upon hearing her college friend was getting married, she tells Rupert Everett that she has 3 days to bust up his wedding and get him to marry her instead. She can’t stand the idea of her pal getting married. We are drawn into her machiavellian scheme and watch as she not only fails at her arch manipulations, she doesn’t get the guy in the end! And we still loved every inch of her!

The people behind THE WEDDING PLANNER didn’t bother to analyze the formula: There’s really no identifiable reason why the lovely, beautifully made-up Jennifer Lopez (as Mary) can’t get a date or is a failure at finding love. She’s successful and in a business where the groom has lots of male friends. What’s her problem? As if there was a need to drench Mary in catholic goodness, she plays championship scrabble with old people and adores her widowed father (played with a really lousy Italian accent by Alex Rocco). Mary even allows Dad to fix her up with an Italian “boy” (Massimo, played by Justin Chambers) with a “right off the boat” haircut.

Mary falls immediately for Steve (Matthew McConaughey), a pediatrician, no less! He’s getting married to his rich, rich society girlfriend Fran, (played by Bridgette Wilson Sampras). Fran is not sexy, but she’s ultra-blond, tall, and thin. I guess this casting makes Mary the pitiful ethnic underdog. Fran (given weird, menacing eyebrows), while brilliant in business, is totally ignorant about Mary’s allure to Steve and Steve’s winning appeal. (Julia truthfully sized up Cameron Diaz as a threat and rival). Fran allows her fiancé to spend way too much time with Mary, her Wedding Planner. Steve also doesn’t have much of a schedule at his hospital.

Steve and Fran are pretty shallow. When Steve finally confronts Fran moments before their wedding, I was amazed at their total disregard for the expense of the wedding and commitment they had made to each other. Where was their years-long intimacy?

In a contrived subplot, Mary and Massimo set out to marry as well, at exactly the same moment Steve and Fran do. This sets up the selfish mess of backing out of two weddings.

Another failure of the script is the lack of strong supporting characters. Penny (Judy Greer), Mary’s assistant, is overbearing and directed to overact. This is clearly a device to allow Mary to appear, by contrast, sweet and sincere. The character of Massimo is just an embarrassment. If the scriptwriters had taken a look at BEST FRIEND they would have seen that the supporting players considered the movie was really about them. Can anyone deny that Rupert Everett played his character as if he was the true center of the movie?

In all fairness, I did learn one thing about weddings: Never let the bridesmaids wear teal.

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