By 2000, Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey both wished a trade. She’d burst onto the scene with Selena, learned important acclaim in Out Of Gape, and settled into motion/sci-fi fare cherish Anaconda and The Cell. He’d transitioned his memorable debut in Dazed & Confused into dramas cherish A Time To Spoil and U-571, and became as soon as new off Ron Howard’s satirical flop EDtv. Lopez and McConaughey each and each thought a plentiful, gentle romantic comedy would develop for a welcome trade of dawdle. Slight did they know that signing onto The Wedding Planner would outline the route of their respective careers for the following decade.
If Hugh Grant, Meg Ryan, and Julia Roberts dominated the rom-com genre at the peak of its 1990s renaissance, Lopez and McConaughey took suppose of the ship neutral because it became as soon as headed in direction of choppier waters. Alongside with actors cherish Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon, and Katherine Heigl, Lopez and McConaughey defined what rom-coms looked most smartly-liked within the aughts, as the ingenious highs of the ’90s curdled into something extra crassly industrial. Thanks to motion photos cherish Monster-In-Legislation and Failure To Launch, both actors had been written off as punchlines till their respective career renaissances (him for projects cherish Magic Mike and Honest Detective, her for Hustlers) reminded us that, hello, they’ll basically act. But even in their worst rom-com choices, it became as soon as continuously sure that Lopez and McConaughey had skills. The realm became as soon as, they seldom obtained area matter that permit them fully mask it off.
The muse for The Wedding Planner came from an advert for a wedding planning route, which caught the glance of writing duo Michael Ellis and Pamela Falk. They met with valid-existence wedding planners for analysis, and turn into by a world where fairy myth romance meets logistical precision. Of their film, elite wedding planner Mary Fiore (Lopez) is savvy at work but unlucky in admire. (“Those who can’t wed, realizing,” she jokes.) Then in some unspecified time in the future, a hunky pediatrician named Steve Edison (McConaughey) saves her existence from a runaway dumpster. It appears to be like cherish admire to starting up with neck brace till Mary discovers that—gasp!—Steve is engaged to her nouveau riche client Fran Donnelly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras). Since Mary desires to land “the Donnelly yarn” to “develop partner” at her, I don’t know, wedding planning company, she attempts to recommit to the cardinal rule of her enterprise: “Don’t drop in admire with the groom.”
On reflection, it became as soon as likely silly to tempt destiny by in conjunction with a literal runaway dumpster as a area level. The important skewering of The Wedding Planner became as soon as so excessive that director Adam Shankman is mute scarred by it nowadays. (The film for the time being sits at a paltry Sixteen% on Immoral Tomatoes.) Alternatively, The Wedding Planner opened No. 1 at the box area of job, and made Lopez the first entertainer within the U.S. to beget a No. 1 film and a No. 1 album—her sophomore file, J.Lo—simultaneously. The Wedding Planner finally earned a solid $60.Four million domestically and burrowed deep into the rom-com canon as a customary cable staple. It’s even influenced the vogue other folks appreciate M&Ms, thanks to a scene where Steve suggests the brown ones beget much less synthetic coloring. (A couple of deep-dives beget proven it’s basically the replacement.)
It’s value noting that your entire area of The Wedding Planner wouldn’t exist if men had been expected to wear engagement rings—no longer that sexist double requirements are something the film is particularly in exploring. Truly, at close to each and each avenue where The Wedding Planner could well well change into a considerate personality portion about admire and loyalty, it swerves in direction of the worst comedic impulses of first-time director Shankman. The dancer-turn into-choreographer made a establish for himself in Hollywood as a streak coordinator for motion photos cherish Addams Family Values and Boogie Nights. He obtained connected to The Wedding Planner thanks to its producers: Jennifer Gibgot is his sister and Peter Abrams had worked with him on She’s All That, the teen rom-com where Shankman inexplicably turn into a high college scoot proper into a choreographed neighborhood dance.
The Wedding Planner aspects within the same vogue inexplicable scenes, in conjunction with a horse tear, a macho successfully being contest, and an excruciating sequence where Mary and Steve frantically try to Krazy Glue a statue’s damaged penis. As Roger Ebert put it, “Whenever you beget considered Jennifer Lopez ungluing marble genitals from the hand of the person she loves, you beget roughly considered the whole lot.”
I’ve beforehand argued that 2003’s How To Lose A Man In 10 Days marks the turning level where the rom-com genre started to drag downhill. But I basically dispute this earlier McConaughey vehicle is even extra of an ur-text for the rom-coms of the aughts. The Wedding Planner prioritizes huge bodily comedy over personality-constructing in a manner that could well well prove increasingly extra disastrous for the genre over the route of the final decade. As well to to introducing Lopez and McConaughey to the romantic comedy sphere, The Wedding Planner additionally gave Judy Greer her first appropriate rom-com most productive friend intention, and helped extra the career of Anne Fletcher, Shankman’s friend and assistant choreographer who would drag on to command smartly-liked romantic comedies cherish 27 Clothes and The Proposal. Shankman himself continued to helm rom-com-adjacent fare for the duration of the aughts, in conjunction with A Stroll To Take note, Bringing Down The Condo, and the 2007 Hairspray musical (his most productive film to this level).
In The Wedding Planner, Shankman’s heightened sensibilities are put to correct utilize in a heated tango class where Mary and Steve first hash out his moral line bending. Shankman additionally opens the film with an outstanding two-and-a-half of minute continuous shot in which Mary weaves thru a large church wedding while exhibiting the precision of a CIA agent, the ingenuity of MacGyver, and the emotional dexterity of a therapist. There are about a places where The Wedding Planner successfully balances its exaggerated comedic tone with originality and characterization. On the entire, nonetheless, it struggles to get the neutral equilibrium.
The Wedding Planner is additionally tormented by large good judgment points, starting with the fact that it uncomfortably whitewashes Puerto Rican American Lopez into the daughter of two white Italian immigrants. In a original subplot, Mary’s overprotective father (Alex Rocco) tries to pawn her off proper into a pseudo organized marriage to her exuberant childhood acquaintance, Massimo (future Grey’s Anatomy indispensable person Justin Chambers, turning in one amongst the strangest “Italian” accents ever captured on film). Whatever the fact that Mary doesn’t basically cherish Massimo, she for some motive goes alongside with it when he crashes a wedding planning session claiming to be her fiancé, which ends in an off-inserting scene where Steve berates Mary for her appreciate duplicity all over their flirtatious meet-gorgeous.
McConaughey is at the least in a build to melt Steve’s morally dubious habits into something reasonably swish—an continuously necessary skill for a male lead within the rom-com genre. Given its uneven filmmaking, The Wedding Planner basically lives or dies in accordance with its central performances. McConaughey became as soon as introduced onboard neutral four weeks sooner than production began when normal indispensable person Brendan Fraser had to plunge out attributable to scheduling conflicts with Bedazzled. (Fraser had so enjoyed working with Shankman on George Of The Jungle that he named him his extraordinary choreographer.) Even though McConaughey’s intention isn’t particularly showy, his laid-again self perception is an efficient foil for Lopez’s indispensable person flip.
As in practically all of her rom-com work, Lopez has an ineffable enchantment that makes you root for her regardless of what over-the-prime scenarios her personality falls into. She manages to develop Mary higher than only a sequence of form-A quirks, which is impressive given that there’s actually a scene where she vacuums her curtains. (It likely helps that Lopez could well well for my share uncover to Mary’s workaholism.) Even though Lopez’s celeb persona and song career hinge on glamour and energy, as an actor she excels at making her characters basically feel valid and relatable, even within a glossy rom-com context. In her most productive scene, Lopez turns in an all-time huge drunk efficiency when Mary spirals after running into her ex-fiancé and his pregnant accomplice.
In the film’s production notes, Shankman lays out a compelling imaginative and prescient of how the four main characters each and each signify a particular perspective on admire. Mary is cynical, Steve is real, Fran is barely appropriate, and Massimo is fully openhearted. None of them are villains, they’ve neutral taken their respective worldviews too far, which has left them out of touch with what they basically desire from existence. (It’s particularly fantastic that The Wedding Planner doesn’t transform Fran proper into a “successfully off bitch” standing in Mary’s manner.) To listen to Shankman uncover it, The Wedding Planner is about relatable human foibles and our inability to flee the ruts we fetch caught in. The realm is, too minute of that comes across within the film itself, which brushes previous potentially intelligent area facets—cherish the wounds Mary carries from getting dumped at the altar—to squeeze in extra bodily comedy hijinks.
In a manner, though, it’s practically simpler to admire Lopez’s and McConaughey’s abilities as actors after they’re working with indecent in area of correct area matter. The Wedding Planner proved they would comprise a rom-com ship afloat, even because it threatened to veer off observe. And while Maid In Ny and How To Lose A Man In 10 Days are the upper motion photos in Lopez’s and McConaughey’s respective rom-com oeuvres, we wouldn’t beget them with out The Wedding Planner as a launching level. As the rom-com genre headed in direction of its darkest days, it at the least buoyed the careers of two of our brightest stars.
Next time: We’re fully buggin’ as Clueless turns 25.