The Wedding Planner

Directed by Adam Shankman
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Justin Chambers, Judy Greer, Alex Rocco.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and some sexual humor.

Review by Matt Heffernan <>
January 29, 2001

It's difficult to not like Jennifer Lopez. She's so pretty and perky that you can't help but hope for the best for her. It doesn't really matter how good her films are, even though some of them have been very good; people are just happy to see her on screen. That can carry her quite far, but not quite to a positive review.

In The Wedding Planner, she plays Mary, a woman who carefully arranged Barbie's wedding as a child, only to grow up to plan Whitney Houston's wedding (which I'm sure was a much better time than the subsequent marriage). She wants to be a partner at her firm, but her boss (Kathy Najimy) won't agree unless she wins the account for a big society wedding. She meets the bride-to-be, Fran Donelly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras), shows her a stunning example of one of her weddings, and the deal is set.

All seems to be going well until Mary gets the heel of her Gucci shoe stuck in a manhole cover, and a runaway dumpster starts hurtling after her. Luckily, Dr. Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey) was there to save her life and her shoe. To thank him, Mary takes her to a park and they dance while an old movie is projected on an outdoor screen behind them (this may be the most extended "Meet Cute" in film history). She thinks it's the start of a beautiful relationship, but it turns out that Dr. Steve is the same person as "Eddie", Fran's fiancÚ. Mary has now broken the cardinal rule of wedding planners: Never fall in love with the groom.

She tries to get over this faux pas by engaging in a romantic comedy. It's every bit as cute and endearing as you could imagine, but incredibly slow. The only thing that makes waiting through this film bearable is the desire to see Lopez find everlasting love with somebody who has no prior convictions. She never wears that famous Versace dress from last year, or that bronze bikini from the recent cover of Rolling Stone, but her smile is enough to make her sympathetic. Thankfully, McConaughey also manages to stay clothed, and never even touches any percussion instruments.

The film just sort of happens, and there are a few laughs, especially from Mary's assistant, Penny (Judy Greer). Calvin Klein model Justin Chambers turns in a surprisingly not-bad performance as Mary's mail-order groom, arranged by her father (Alex Rocco, who is always a pleasure to watch). The film is just filled with nice people, but they only manage to keep boredom at bay. Director Adam Shankman lucked out with the cast, getting a better film than the pedestrian screenplay by Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis (for obsessive Monty Python fans, yes, the Michael Ellis) deserved.

As you could have guessed, the film is doing quite well, knocking Save the Last Dance off the top of the box office. Lopez's new album, J.Lo, is also selling well, so we're certain to see more of her in the future. You won't hear me complaining.

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The Wedding Planner (2001)

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Review © 2001 Matt Heffernan