Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:42 - Released 1/26/01

The Wedding Planner, starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey, features a story with clear potential which was shamefully squandered on an inept, formulaic writing approach. Moreover, although it's supposed to be a chick flick, it's one of those movies that would make any self-respecting woman furious, implying that a smart, successful female cannot have a complete life without a man in it. The first major release directed by choreographer-turned-director Adam Shankman, The Wedding Planner has supposedly intelligent characters saying and doing such painfully stupid things, we can't help but cringe. Like a doctor who only eats the brown M&M's because he figures they have less artificial coloring "since chocolate is brown anyway." Whaaaaat? And furthermore, the script by Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis seems to feel that life is all about lying (it makes this point on several occasions), and its characters are so badly developed we find ourselves rooting for the wrong guy. Aren't movie protagonists supposed to have some sort of redeeming qualities?

San Francisco wedding consultant Mary Fiore (Lopez) is a respected professional who has done numerous major nuptial events for people like Whitney Houston, and her experience has given her the ability to predict the duration of a marriage based on things like the colors chosen for bridesmaids' dresses or the music used in the ceremony. For instance, she says the use of Olivia Newton-John's "I Honestly Love You" puts the marriage firmly in the 12-to-14 month category. How touching. She runs a wedding like a military operation, complete with headsets and on-site computer monitors, saying things like, "I've got a twenty on the FOB (father of the bride)." Still, since her home life consists of eating all her meals in front of the Antiques Roadshow and attending regular Scrabble tournaments with her old man (Alex Rocco) and his geriatric friends, her friend Penny (Judy Greer) seems to think that Mary needs a man, any man, at any expense. So, when Mary survives a patently stupid "accident," being saved from a rushing dumpster by cute, caring, M&M-sorting pediatrician Steve Edison (McConaughey), all her problems seem to be over. They go out on a date, dance, watch a movie, and almost kiss...and after all, girls, he's a doctor! The trouble is, he's engaged. And his intended is none other than Fran Donelly (Bridgette Wilson), Mary's latest client.

Besides being utterly predictable and having all its plot elements revealed in the trailer, The Wedding Planner suffers from an inability to craft characters we care about. The most charming person, who we actually would like to see win, is the "other man" — a shy, romantic Italian guy (Justin Chambers) who seems to really care about Mary. Steve, on the other hand, is little more than a boorish lout who can't decide whose skirt he wants to chase. Though he's supposed to be the supervising pediatrician at the local hospital, he seems to have a lot of time on his hands, spending most of the film horseback riding, taking dancing lessons, and breaking the private parts off of public statues (for which he is apparently not prosecuted). His only patient, in fact, is Mary, for whom he orders a CAT scan after her tumble in the street (which does not even muss her hair). Hope she has insurance.

I would not want to have a cynical person like Mary planning my wedding. I would not want to have a selfish jerk like Steve taking care of my kids. So why would I want to see them marry each other?

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

See Current Reviews | See FilmQuips Archive