Marry Me (2022) is a film that wears its influences on its sleeve; it’s part James L. Brooks and part Nancy Meyers. Marry Me brings the romantic comedy of the “golden age” into the 2020s, imbuing the long thought exhausted genre with newfound relevancy with a narrative that’s as old as the hills. It’s not that Marry Me is groundbreaking, it’s that its style of film has been re-born.
The notion that pop-diva Jennifer Lopez would, upon being cheated on by her equally famous fiancé, marry Owen Wilson at random during one of her shows is completely absurd. It gets by on the fact that in the music business stranger things have happened. It’s the story of a princess (Lopez) who finds herself through an unlikely pairing with a pauper (Owen Wilson); the formula smacks of the Hepburn and Tracy films.
One of the ways that Marry Me updates these tropes is how it incorporates and utilizes social media as an indicator of both class and age. Where an older film would focus on the amenities of Lopez’s lifestyle, Marry Me looks at how social media shapes Lopez’s life in a way it doesn’t for Wilson. Marry Me is like Notting Hill (1999) but substituting Instagram for the paparazzi.
It’s also apparent that filmmaker Kat Coiro is trading on the trending nostalgia for the nineties that is gaining more and more traction in the early 2020s. Lopez and Wilson were both hot up and coming talents then, and now they speak to a generation of movie goers entering middle age. The genre stylings Coiro employs intentionally lean into this by recalling the aforementioned films of Nancy Meyers.
On these terms Marry Me is entirely successful. Coiro and company have effectively transposed a hit romantic comedy from 1999 to 2022. As silly as Marry Me is, it’s also moving, unpretentious, fun (Sarah Silverman), and politically progressive. If nothing else critics and audiences alike should at the very least respect this film.