No, it’s not great. It isn’t going to change the world. It isn’t even going to change the way you think about movies. It isn’t going on anybody’s “10 Best” anything list. Almost no aspect of its plot is going to surprise even the most unsavvy moviegoer. However, The Wedding Planner is a fairly consistently entertaining romantic comedy that features attractive people playing likable characters in an attractive and likable film — and that’s not such a shabby accomplishment. In addition, the film boasts a fair amount of seemingly uncalculated charm, one rather nifty idea and one dynamite scene. Unfortunately, much of the movie’s merits seem to be lost on many reviewers, who were expecting … what? Another There’s Something About Mary perhaps? Well, it’s not up to that caliber, but it’s also not just another witless exercise in juvenalia that consistently mistakes loud and stupid for clever and funny. The plot is the essence of romantic farce: Professional (and lonely and loveless) wedding planner Jennifer Lopez (The Cell) is saved from being crushed beneath a runaway dumpster by doctor Matthew McConaughey (Ed TV). In scripting terms, this is known as “meeting cute.” Not surprisingly, it’s love at first sight for Lopez, who ends up on a date with her rescuer that very same evening. Here the film reveals one of it’s most original ideas: setting the date scene at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, where old movies are projected on the wall of a building. The setting is unusual and charming, and works completely. Of course, it turns out that McConaughey is already engaged to be married to Bridget Wilson. And worse, Wilson is not merely one of Lopez’ clients, but her Big Chance client: the one whose wedding will award her a partnership in the wedding-planning business. With a plot like this, we all know that everything just has to work out, so the question becomes how many amusing, moving or entertaining incidents the writers and director can cook up to take us to this pre-ordained conclusion. Fortunately, The Wedding Planner has more than the requisite amount of all three to get by — and even a little more. Quite the best sequence in the film is an amazingly designed and shot scene where Lopez and McConaughey have their first confrontation after learning of each other’s true circumstances while doing the tango in a dance class. This bit is so breathtakingly accomplished that it comes as no shock to learn that first time director Adam Shankman previously choreographed a number of films. Shankman’s sense of movement actually infuses the entire film, but in this instance he truly brings the material to life. One interesting aspect of the script, though never explored, is the fact that the modern women in the film are far more in control (and more successful) than the men in the film. All in all, they are in charge of the situation and the men defer to them in one way or another. (The male-female relationship in the film where this is not the case involves the bride’s parents, played by Charles Kimbrough and Joanna Gleason. Though depicted humorously, the father is a social snob control-freak who dehumanizes Lopez by referring to her only as “wedding woman,” and the mother is a genial alcoholic.) Whether or not this departure is intentional, it gives the film a certain resonance and a sense of offering a somewhat different worldview. But don’t take it too seriously, since The Wedding Planner’s simple aim is to be amusing and entertaining. For the most part, it succeeds.
– reviewed by Ken Hanke