A romantic comedy about love, destiny, and other events you just can't plan for.
Everybody loves a date movie. There's something special about sitting next to one another as an on-screen couple makes love without getting one damn hair out of place. It's enough to make you sick. Stupid date movies, always reminding me of how alone I am and how I hate it that on a Friday night I don't have…err, excuse me.
Must have let my emotions get the better of me. He-he. My bad. Let's start again.
Everyone loves a date movie. And from the looks of her album sales and box office revenue, everyone loves Jennifer Lopez (or, if you like, J Lo). For her first romantic comedy she was paired up with everyone's favorite down home stoner, Matthew McConaughey (or, as I like to call him, the poor man's Woody Harrelson), in the box office hit The Wedding Planner. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment brings together big name stars with mushy comedy for a marriage made on DVD.
Facts of the Case
Mary Fiore (Lopez) is one of the best wedding planners there is. She's driven, she's precise, she's a control freak. She knows the ins and outs of getting the bride and groom up to the altar and on their way to new happy lives better than anyone else in the business. The only trouble is that Mary can plan a wedding, but she's yet to be the star of her own. A fast paced businesswoman, Mary is a lonely soul who doesn't have anyone to come home to at night (except for her trusty television set).
Mary's life drastically changes when she's saved from a runaway trash dumpster (don't ask) by Steve (McConaughey), a handsome young doctor with a heart of gold. The way these two meet is so cute that it makes you want to barf up your left intestine. Through a twist of fate (and what I like to call "obvious script coincidence"), Mary and Steve end up dancing that night away at a local fairground that plays old-time movies for slow-dancing couples. It's painfully obvious that there are sparks, and in a brief moment, a near kiss. The next day Mary finds herself smitten with Steve…that is until she finds out that he's the fiancé of her next bridal client (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras)! Stop the presses and hold the mayo, this ain't good news for our love struck heroine!
Mary is suddenly thrust into the Bermuda Triangle of love with Steve, his wife-to-be, and a weird Italian guy that her dad (Alex Rocco) keeps trying to set her up with. Along the way they'll have wacky adventures involving horseback riding, nutty receptions, and a broken limestone penis. It's all in the stars for The Wedding Planner!
The Wedding Planner may be something couples will really enjoy watching. It harkens back to the golden age of Hollywood, and has a sweetness to it in the vein of Father Of The Bride. I'm sure that my parents absolutely adored it, seeing as Pretty Woman is their idea of a perfect film. I, however, was not amused.
Alex Rocco is always fun to watch though, and much of the rest of the supporting cast is very good. One special treat for comedy fans is the inclusion of Fred Willard as a dance instructor. Willard has been getting into high profile roles these days, thanks to his wonderful work in Christopher Guest's Best In Show and Waiting For Guffman. His dance instructor wears a strange beard, snapping at everyone to dance! dance! dance! He is to The Wedding Planner what Martin Short's "Fronk" was to Father Of The Bride, on a much smaller scale. Otherwise, this film has all the excitement of tofu ice cream.
The Wedding Planner is presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen. By all accounts, Columbia has taken the time to make this film look crisp and clean. Being as it's a new release, that's not surprising. Colors were excellent, looking vibrant and bright. Some edge enhancement was spotted, though nothing major. Blacks were solid with no shimmer present. The picture shows detail and depth, proving to be a very good job by Columbia TriStar.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, as well as 2-Channel Dolby Surround. The 5.1 track sounds good, used mostly to enhance the music (which is good, as I am sure the soundtrack full of pop love songs sold millions of copies). The track is clear and free of any distortion. Dialogue is clear with effects (what there are) and music mixed well. Rear speakers are mostly utilized for music and Mervyn Warren's comedic score. Also included are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Supplemental features for The Wedding Planner include a few goodies for fans of the film. First up is a commentary track by director Adam Shankman and screenwriters Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis. You can immediately tell that all three of these people are very excited with their end product, and talk as if they're kids in a candy store. There does tend to be a few times when they overlap each other with stories, but overall it's one of the livelier commentary tracks out there.
Some deleted scenes are included in non-anamorphic widescreen with optional director's commentary. These scenes were not quite finished, so there is a good amount of grain and softness to the picture. The deleted scenes aren't half bad, and a few might have actually helped the film's structure if they had been included.
The full frame "Making Of" featurette is included, as well as a second featurette entitled "The Dancer & The Cowboy." Each of these run about three minutes and add little insight into the film or its production. Each featurette includes clips from the film, as well as snippets of interviews from the film's stars. This certainly could have been put together as one segment, seeing as combined these two features run about six minutes in length.
Finally there is an anamorphic theatrical trailer for The Wedding Planner and My Best Friend's Wedding, as well as full frame trailers for the Lopez monster flick Anaconda and the Sean Penn vehicle U-Turn. Also included are some filmographies for the cast and crew.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There's an unfortunate truth that lies just underneath The Wedding Planner's exterior: it's not very funny. Romantic comedies can be cute and still have a well-defined comedic edge to them. The Wedding Planner has none of this. It's been quite a while since I've seen a romantic comedy that was as bland and lifeless as The Wedding Planner. Maybe I saw it in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I don't think that's the case. The script by Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis just doesn't have enough "ummph" to sustain a comedic premise. Okay, the wedding planner has no life. I guess that could have been a funny premise, but not in the hands of these two writers. Their comedic moments come from odd situations that just don't gel as comedy. Take the "I've crazy-glued a limestone penis to my hand!" scene. Maybe some other comedic team could have made this funny. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan for instance. McConaughey and Lopez just can't hack it. The script lacks a good one-liner this scene needs (just like many others), and with McConaughey's delivery style, I doubt he would have been able to give it the laugh it needed.
Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey make a very mismatched pair for romantic possibilities. I realize that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, and that anyone can come together and fall in love in this crazy, mixed up place called life. That said…come on, this isn't even close. I can buy that McConaughey is a pediatrician. I'll even go so far as to buy how these two met (which is about as believable as Jean Claude Van Damme having a resurgence in his movie career). What I can't buy is why, beyond the doctor front, Lopez's character would be even slightly interested in Steve. McConaughey sounds like he's gliding his way through the film, and that he's just on screen to get his weekly pay. His charisma level feels deathly low, sustaining the personality of a "Hee-Haw" character (while mumbling all his lines unintelligibly for most of the film). Lopez tries to give the role her all, but it's basically her playing lovelorn or goofy, and Lopez is NOT the person for this type of role (someone who has actually done comedy would have fared much better). Lopez is not bad, just miscast. The same can't be said for the rest of this mess.
My final complaint is the music score by Mervyn Warren. I've never heard a pluckier score, bent on making sure you know EXACTLY where to laugh and EXACTLY where to cry. It's as if the film wasn't enough to tug on our heartstrings and funny bones, no sir…we need real, lush music to tell us how to feel. Cloying and annoying.
This may be worth your time as a rental when you have that special someone over, but otherwise it's no great shakes. I wish that I could be more lenient on The Wedding Planner, but it really doesn't have any laughs in it. It could be you'll like this much more than I did, and that's the beauty of movies: one man's movie is another man's trash (expect for Back To The Future, which has scientifically been proven to be the perfect film. I have pie charts and graphs to prove it, so there's no arguing about it).
Eh…nothing too impressive, though if you're in the mood for love it may be up your alley. Columbia is acquitted on all charges with a decent disc.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
• Commentary by Director Adam Shankman and Writers Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis
Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.