The Wedding Planner
© 2002-2010 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.

      THE WEDDING PLANNER is a modest movie that attempts to evoke the
spirit of an old-fashioned romantic comedy like those that featured great screen
teams of William Powell and Myrna Loy, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
or Doris Day and Rock Hudson. It doesn't quite approximate the level of films
like
PAT AND MIKE or PILLOW TALK, but as a pleasant date film, it passes
muster.

      Headliner Jennifer Lopez is the titular character, one Mary Fiore, a
super-efficient businesswoman based in San Francisco who has a ready arsenal
of gadgets, toiletries and platitudes at her command to deploy in any situation
that might arise during the tense periods before, during and after a marriage
ceremony. While observers may feel that her life is glamorous and thrilling, in
reality, she's something of a loner, soured on romance. Mary is so good at what
she does, she can predict almost down to the day just how long a couple will
stay married by the choice of music or the color scheme of the event. She's also
determined to land the high profile wedding of local businesswoman (Bridgette
Wilson-Sampras) as a means of landing a partnership in the company for which
she works.

      She bags the client, but as she's recounting the events to her office on the
telephone, she gets the heel of her shoe caught in a manhole cover. There's a
freak accident that causes a Dumpster to careen straight for her, but
miraculously she's rescued -- and by a doctor (Matthew McConaughey). Okay, so
he's a pediatrician, but Dr. Steve Edison is a looker and projects enough 'aw,
shucks' charm to win over Mary and her somewhat flighty assistant (Judy
Greer). The latter quickly arranges a date for the doctor and the wedding
planner and then makes up an excuse. As the pair sit in a park and watch an
old movie musical, they engage in a dance and seem headed for the inevitable
kiss when it suddenly starts to rain! And that's the just the first of the many
contrivances that arise to keep them apart. The biggest impediment is that the
good doctor is the fiancé of the hotshot businesswoman. (Like you didn't see
that coming!) Throw in an Italian hunk named Massimo (Justin Chambers) who
wants to marry Mary thanks to her meddling father (Alex Rocco) and
complications ensue.

      The major problem with the film is that the comic sequences never quite
gel. The various roadblocks to the relationship between Mary and Steve as
scripted by Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis feel contrived and that overly
formulaic approach undercuts the film's strengths. First-time director Adam
Shankman (whose sister was one of the film's producers) tries too hard to milk
humor from situations (like the bride-to-be's mother's penchant for singing)
that at most invoke chuckles not belly laughs. With his background in
choreography, Shankman handles the two major dance set pieces well enough,
but his pacing of the other scenes doesn't quite come together.

      Still, the stars shine through by dint of their winning personalities and
pleasant (if not electric) chemistry. Lopez projects the right mixture of
tough-as-nails savvy and goofy charm to endear herself to the audience.
McConaughey has a laid-back attitude that dovetails nicely with his leading
lady. There's nice work from the supporting players already mentioned as well
as Joanna Gleason and Charles Kimbrough as Wilson-Sampras' wine-loving
parents and Kathy Najimy as Lopez's boss.

      The makers of
THE WEDDING PLANNER clearly didn't have aspirations to
make anything more than an innocuous amusement, and they've succeeded in
fashioning a movie that's an agreeable way for couples to pass a couple of
hours together.


                      
Rating:                  C+
                           MPAA Rating:       PG-13 for language and some
                                                                     sexual humor
                           Running time:      103 mins.