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The Wedding Planner

Rated PG-13, 102 min. Directed by Adam Shankman. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Justin Chambers, Judy Greer, Alex Rocco, Kevin Pollak, Kathy Najimy.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Jan. 26, 2001

As the lovelorn wedding planner Maria (Lopez) puts it, those who can't wed, plan. And those who can't produce smart, sexy material in keeping with the smart, sexy likes of Lopez and co-star/hometown boy Matthew McConaughey, churn out crap like this. The plodding -- um, plotting -- of Adam Shankman's new film involves a chance meeting between Maria and McConaughey's Steve. Both go a little gooey for the other (shocker), but those heart stirrings are stifled by a surprise revelation: Steve is actually the fiancé of Mary's prized new client, the nouveau riche Fran (a snappy, snippy Wilson-Sampras, in one of the few genuinely funny performances here). Both Mary and Steve must suffer tremendously, pretending like they don't already know the other is their cosmically deigned lovebunny, and the audience must suffer the displeasure of squirming through yet another trite, predictable, unfunny, and unmoving “romantic-comedy.” The elements are certainly here for a likable picture, but the characters are sketched badly. Some of them are downright clownish (Mary's hyperactive-poodle personal assistant, a scooter-riding Italian with stars in his eyes); other roles are bogged down by distracting cameos (Pollak, Najimy).There are some nice touches -- a shy dance in Golden Gate Park, an opening sequence that wordlessly chronicles Mary's solitary, neat-freak existence as she fastidiously arranges cloth napkins and frozen dinners in front of the TV. But touches like this are hampered by an uninspired camera and a third-rate, easy-listening soundtrack. Writers Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis toss out contrived subplots like moldy rice to choke on: a made-to-order Italian bridegroom, the convenient reappearance of an ex-fiancé, a litany of tired sob stories that we've all heard before. And I swear to God, if I see one more motley assortment of wise-cracking old geezers (Return to Me, Mickey Blue Eyes, The Crew), I'm gonna lose it in my leak-control adult undergarments. The biggest disappointment of The Wedding Planner? The mistreatement of its two stars. Lopez and McConaughey have both shown enormous charisma (she was a smooth-talking stunner in Out of Sight, while he casually seduces in just about every endeavor, egging you to lay back and luxuriate in that slow, sexy drawl). But the blandness of The Wedding Planner burlap-sacks their appeal in an altogether dowdy outing for two stars who deserve much snazzier threads. Pray for cold feet the next time a script like this lands in their lap.
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