Jennifer Lopez must have an iron stomach to have been able to read even the first five pages "The Wedding Planner" script without losing her lunch.
After a Vaseline-lensed prologue flashback showing a little girl playing wedding with Ken and Barbie, the first scene of this saccharinely half-witted, cutesy-poo, allegedly romantic alleged comedy finds a Miss Lonelyhearts wedding coordinator (Lopez) calmly delivering a client's nuptials from the jaws of chaos.
With a counterfeit Tinkerbell twinkle in her eye and a fairy dust spring in her step, she reassures a nervous bride with an insincere go-get-'em speech, produces a clothespin to save a bridesmaid from a cleavage crisis and sobers up the father of the bride, all the while dictating this and that detail to subordinates through an ear-piece walkie-talkie.
Just to make sure you understand how cute this all is, the soundtrack titters incessantly with the kind of perky flute and plucky string accompaniment usually reserved for movies that feature talking animals.
And when it's all over, poor, poor Jennifer goes home to a lonely dinner on a TV tray and "Antiques Road Show" on TV, then plays Scrabble with her father (Alex Rocco) and his wrinkled pals at a retirement home. Beautiful, shapely, sweet and chipper Jennifer can't find a man, you see. She's too dedicated to her career. "The Wedding Planner" implies this is some dreadful curse on the modern career gal.
Of course, the next day she gets her high-heeled shoe caught in a manhole cover on a steep San Francisco street and is rescued from a runaway dumpster by Matthew Mcconaughey -- who plays a super-charming pediatrician (aww, he likes kids!) with a megawatt smile.
Sparks fly. They go to an outdoor movie at Golden Gate Park and dance under the stars. Then she finds out he's the groom in a big society wedding that she's been commissioned to plan.
The rest of the plot is based on "Three's Company"-quality sitcom misunderstandings that are supposed to produce hilarious results. Example: Lopez's dad tries to fix her up with a buffoonish puppy dog of an Italian immigrant (Justin Chambers), whom she uses to try to make McConaughey jealous. (What is this? Junior High?)
The fact that late in the picture she almost marches down the aisle with this plot device yutz just goes to show how incurably foolish this heroine really is.
When "The Wedding Planner" isn't scraping the bottom of the comedy barrel, it's burning screen time on incongruous scenes that serve no purpose other than setting up forcibly pivotal moments. Why on earth would the wedding planner go horseback riding with the bride-to-be (the shellacked-looking Bridget Wilson-Sampras), her parents, McConaughey and the Italian yutz? Only because screenwriters Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis needed a setting for another rescue, so they have Lopez's mount get spooked and take off out of control.
If this is the best these folks can do, they're not qualified to write dirty limericks on bathroom walls, let alone movie screenplays.
Then there's director Adam Shankman, a "dance and physical comedy choreographer" (according to the film's press kit), making his inept behind-the-camera debut by making a showpiece of a scene where McConaughey gets his hand Super-Glued to the penis of a "limestone" statue he was (single-handedly!) picking up after Lopez (single-handedly!) knocked it over.
Buddy, don't quite your day job. And leave the penis gags to the "South Park" guys, OK?
Despite the fact that he's standing chest-deep in cinematic sewage, McConaughey manages to shine a little, somehow making his trite, embarrassing dialogue sound sincere and romantic. But he's the only cast member who could dare to hold his head high after making this movie.
As Lopez's father, Rocco can't hold his speech-impediment Italian accent for more than two lines of dialogue and hams like a sleep-deprived Jerry Lewis through the whole picture. As the puppy dog suitor, Chambers ("Liberty Heights") is so grating you want Lopez to slap him every time he looks at her longingly.
Then there's Lopez herself, who has so little perky-girl credibility that her performance comes off like a porn star trying to go legit.
I haven't begun to scratch the surface of all the cruel things I'd like to say about "The Wedding Planner," but this review is one of the harshest I've ever written and I can feel myself only getting meaner. If you've read this far, I'm sure you get the gist, so I'm going to stop. Suffice it to say, this movie felt like I was being punished for becoming a film critic, and I already can't wait to start my "worst movies of 2001" list.
Run time: 103 mins
In Theaters: Friday 26th January 2001
Box Office Worldwide: $94.7M
Distributed by: Cinedigm
Production compaines: Dee Gee Entertainment, Tapestry Films, Columbia Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 0.5 / 5
IMDB: 5.1 / 10
Director: Adam Shankman
Starring: Jennifer Lopez as Mary Fiore, Matthew McConaughey as Steve Edison, Justin Chambers as Massimo, Joanna Gleason as Mrs. Donolly, Lou Myers as Burt Weinberg, Kathy Najimy as Geri, Charles Kimbrough as Mr. Donolly, Judy Greer as Penny, Bridgette Wilson as Fran Donolly, Alex Rocco as Salvatore, Kevin Pollak as Dr. John Dojny, Fred Willard as Basil St. Mosely, Frances Bay as Dottie, Philip Pavel as Benton, Natalia Jaroszyk as Crying Bride, Fabiana Udenio as Anna Bosco, Susan Mosher as Frieda
Also starring: Kevin Pollack
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