Grade:  B+/B
Romantic comedy
Rated PG-13

If you and your family are suckers for feel-good romantic comedies that follow the rom-com formula to the first 10 digits of pi, you might think about adding Marry Me to your home video collection. This far-fetched but cute 2020 movie pairs a low-key junior high math teacher with a pop superstar that’s way out of his league. 

How far out?

Jennifer Lopez plays the sexy performer Kat Valdez, who is known and loved worldwide, while Owen Wilson is meek and nerdy math teacher Charlie Gilbert, the custodial single parent of a junior-high age daughter named Lou (Chloe Coleman). The idea of a romance between a celebrity and an average person no doubt stems from those happily-ever-after fairy tales about commoners marrying a prince . . . or beauty marrying a beast. Here Wilson is the common “beast,” and that’s not just me throwing shade. There are more than a few jokes in the film about the disparity in their looks and appeal.

Instead of a “meet cute” there’s a “marry cute.” Charlie reluctantly agrees to go to a Kat Valdez concert with his best friend/co-worker (Sarah Silverman) and daughter to prove he’s a cool dad. It’s the hottest ticket in town, as the whole world is talking about the hit song that Valdez made with Latinx heartthrob Bastian (Maluma). At this concert, in front of 5000 fans and 20 million people watching on TV, the couple will perform the song live and then get married onstage.

But as Parker hands Charlie her “Marry Me” sign to hold while she takes a few photos, everyone in the room begins gasping and looking at their phones. They’re looking at film of Bastian “canoodling” (we have to bring that word back!) with Valdez’s assistant. Ouch. Valdez not only stops the concert; she talks about breaking patterns and taking a leap of faith. Seeing Charlie in the first few rows with his “Marry Me” sign she declares, “Yes. I’ll marry . . . YOU.”

What follows is the standard rom-com structure, complicated by the onrush of celebrity that overwhelms Charlie, along with a persistent Bastian who’s wanting a second chance, and a “Mathalon” that Charlie is training his kids for. But this one actually might have broader appeal for families today. J.Lo and Maluma sing quite a few songs (many of them original), there’s the whole behind-the-scenes look at life in the superstar lane, and since Charlie’s a teacher there also are plenty of scenes involving junior-high age students. What’s more, because he’s a single parent, his daughter is always lurking in the wings—an awkward 13 year old who could certainly use some tips from the hottest pop star on the planet. And what kids wouldn’t imagine themselves in a scenario like that?

Charlie didn’t exactly say “yes” at the concert. He said “okay,” because as he explained later, it seemed like the right thing to do. Yes, he’s that nice of a guy, and Marry Me is a pretty wholesome movie. So the big (rom-com) dramatic question is, will this “marriage” turn out to be more than a spur-of-the-moment reaction for both of them?

At one point Game of Thrones is referenced, which feels tongue-in-cheek because John Bradley, who plays Valdez’s publicist-manager, previously starred as Samwell Tarly in GOT. There are plenty more lines in this film that are reflexive and add depth to an otherwise shallow narrative, and the stars are warm and engaging. This was the film debut for Maluma, and while he’s 25 years younger than J.Lo the age difference doesn’t stand out because J.Lo looks ageless.

I’ll be honest:  when I watched teasers for this film and saw the title, the premise, and the unlikely romantic pairing of Lopez and Wilson, I thought it would be a dud. But Marry Me was surprisingly entertaining, with plenty of feel-good moments. Even more of a surprise, it holds up with repeat viewing.

Entire family:  No (age 10 and older?)
Run time:  112 min. Color
Aspect ratio:  1.85:1 widescreen
Featured audio:  DTS-HDMA 5.1
Studio/Distributor:  Universal
Bonus features:  B+
Includes:  Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Code
Amazon link
Rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive material

Language:  2/10—“Jesus” and a handful of “shits” and such, but no f-bombs

Sex:  2/10—Nothing here but some talk about lovemaking and some skimpy and revealing performance costumes acknowledged by parent Charlie, who covers his daughter’s eyes at one point

Violence:  0/10—Zero, zip, nada—for a triangle it’s all very civil

Adult situations:  2/10—Alcohol and the adult theme of cheating

Takeaway:  Like Blended, this film has a slow and cautious romantic burn that feels more believable because a single parent is involved