Dir: Adam Shankman. US. 2001. 100 mins.
The Wedding Planner is an exceptionally lame romantic comedy only partially redeemed by a charismatic turn from lead actress Jennifer Lopez. Lopez rises above the sub-standard material and shows great promise as a romantic comedy star. The film opened with a respectable $13.5m over Superbowl weekend, no doubt boosted by Lopez' constant MTV exposure, and the fact that it was the only romantic comedy on release. Her name will also pay dividends in international territories, but word of mouth will not kick in to give it long stays in theatres.
First-time director Shankman, a talented choreographer with credits including She's All That and The Flintstones, obviously intended to make a romantic throwback to the golden age of screwball comedies but he mismanages the comic sequences, which are gauche and often inept. The screenplay is crammed with cliches from the genre, but also inadequate in providing character motivation or consistency. Plot developments and information about characters are dropped in randomly as though the movie was being written as the film-makers went along, while whole characters - especially those played by Kevin Pollak and Kathy Nijimy - are introduced never to be seen again.
If only the script had been developed more intelligently, it could have been a charmer, as the premise is a good one.
Lopez plays a successful wedding planner of Italian descent who has designs on becoming a partner in her firm, but is unable to find the perfect relationship. Her father (Rocco) is desperate for her to get married, even setting her up with an Italian immigrant (Chambers), to no avail. One day, she literally bumps into a handsome paediatrician (McConaughey) and they spend an evening together, but the following day she is stunned to learn that he is the groom in the society wedding she is planning for Bridgette Wilson-Sampras.
The chemistry between Lopez and McConaughey is sufficiently hot, but by the time the wedding takes place - with the race across town right out of My Best Friend's Wedding - the implausibilities which have been stacked up throughout the film have erased any reason to be engaged by it.
Prod cos: Tapestry Films, Dee Gee Entertainment, IMF, Prufrock Pictures. US dist: Columbia Pictures. Int'l sales: Intermedia. Exec prods: Nina R Sadowsky, Chris Sievernich, Moritz Borman, Guy East, Nigel Sinclair. Prods: Peter Abrams, Robert L Levy, Jennifer Gibgot, Gigi Pritzker, Deborah Del Prete. Scr: Pamela Falk, Michael Ellis. Cinematographer: Julio Macat. Prod des: Bob Ziembicki. Ed: Lisa Zeno Churgin. Music: Mervyn Warren. Main cast: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Justin Chambers, Judy Greer, Alex Rocco, Joanna Gleason, Fred Willard, Kevin Pollak, Kathy Nijimy.