The Wedding Planner (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I like to think that I'm objective about why movies fail and succeed. When I dislike a film and it does well, I tend to believe that I can figure out why. When I dislike a film and it gets great reviews, I like to think that I can find the prejudice in me or the flaw in the system under which the critics operate. That's excessively rationalistic, I know, but most things can be understood and explained.

With that too-lengthy prefix, let me note that the success of this film is not easy to explain. The critics raped it. The IMDb members rape it. I hated it. What made this the top picture in the United States for a couple of weeks before Hannibal opened? Was it just because there is a certain amount of money spent every week on movies, and this was the best choice in a poor field? Yes, that is almost certainly the reason.

As you probably know, the studios line up their big guns for the Christmas season, then release their secondary product in the dreaded late January slot. This one wasn't considered a Christmas contender, and came out in the loser slot. That timing turned out to be a brilliant marketing move by the studio. The only other film to open January 28th was Sugar & Spice. New releases only took in 19 million that week (compared to 78 million during Christmas week, and 66 million the week Hannibal opened), but Wedding Planner took in 70% of what there was to take, and held on to became a moderate success. Sugar & Spice itself managed to over-perform because it took in $11 million in those two dead weeks, then disappeared as soon as it had any competition. If Wedding Planner had opened two weeks later, it probably would have been a $10 million picture, but the timing turned it into a minor winner at $60 million.

It's awful. It is supposed to be a romantic comedy, but it has no laughs and only a couple of minutes of romance. Mostly, it's two hours of "set up". And it's even a sillier set up than usual. Jennifer Lopez plays a workaholic wedding planner who hasn't had a date in two years, and doesn't have any current interest in men. She is about to land the plum account of all time for her firm, planning the wedding for the daughter of a rich guy who keeps saying stuff like "not extravagant enough," and "find something bigger". As luck would have it, her shoe gets stuck while she's in the middle of a street, with a runaway dumpster about to run her over, when she is saved by a white knight.  

 Now, what do you think he is:



a. A doctor, so he can personally treat her.

b. The only guy in the past two years she's had any spark with.

c. The groom in the monster wedding account she's just landed.

I know, any one of those three would be ludicrous plotting, but you could overlook it for the sake of compression, right? But would you believe ALL THREE! Yup, the old divine intercession trick.

Then we have the usual formula. They have some spark at first, and he doesn't tell her he's engaged. She finds out who he is. They spat. They go their separate ways. They come together and make peace. They are about to marry other people, both on the same day, when they both end up calling off their weddings. The groom calls off his and rushes across town to her wedding, only to find her coming out of the church. But it's OK, because she did the same thing.

Do you believe that shit?

Some of the performances are also pretty damned lame. I've praised Matt McConaughey in the past, when he's been cast as everyman. Here he's cast as a bookish, intellectual doctor, and it's a stretch, to say the least. I didn't know they made a pop-up version of Gray's Anatomy. Matt seems like the kind of guy whose last books are still sitting around half uncolored. Let's face it, the only reason he'd own a thick book is to hide his stash. And what was the deal with that blond, curly hairstyle? He looked like he was ready for a remake of La Cage aux Folles.

And that poor guy who played Lopez' arranged spouse from the old country was ..... 

Well, I don't know what his real profession is, but I strongly suspect it isn't acting

On the other hand, Jennifer Lopez did fine and she looked really great, although I don't know why they chose to make her character an Italian. Did Rome fight a little-known war against the Inca Empire? Who's the least Italian looking person you can think of? Rutger Hauer? James Hong? There are people that look like those two guys in Italy, but I never saw anyone who resembled Jennifer Lopez. Why not just change her back story and have her family come from Peru or Ecuador or Guatemala or someplace where the people actually look something like Jennifer Lopez? But I guess that doesn't matter, because nothing else in the script was logical, so why be picky on this one point? She did a good job at creating a character. She deserves a shot at better material than this. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • Full-length director commentary

  • Making-of featurette

  • several deleted scenes

  • featurette on teaching Matt to dance and teaching Jennifer to ride a horse

By the way, although no demo groups liked it very much, you are more likely to enjoy it if you have a vagina, and much more so if you are also under 18.

  • Males rate it much lower than females. 
  • The younger the voter group, the higher the score

Thus females under 18 score it 7.3, while males over 44 score it 4.2. 

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: a bit better than one and a half stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 1.5/4, Apollo 52/100.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.8
  • With their dollars ... it took in $60 million, on a $35 million budget. See the main commentary,
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a very weak C-, only for genre addicts, and that high only because of Lopez' charm and charisma.

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