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Jennifer Lopez leans into her stardom in ‘Marry Me’

Lindsey Bahr

AP – Jennifer Lopez is very good at being very famous.

That might sound more like a circumstance and not a rarified skill, but that’s just because she’d never let you see the work behind it. The same goes for her competence as a romantic comedy heroine. She might not always get the best material, but her rom-com charm is undeniable and even underrated 25 years after her breakout in Selena. The only time we as a culture seem to consider a performance of hers especially noteworthy is when she’s in something more ‘serious’ (see: Out of Sight, Hustlers).

It’s what makes Marry Me, her new rom-com in theatres and on Peacock TV, so inspired. It allows her to lean into her utterly singular experience as a very, very famous person within the construct of her best genre. Though it says something that she, as pop star Kat Valdez, is the most believable part of the whole endeavour, a glossy and better-than-average fantasy about the pros of arranged marriage.

Now, Marry Me is not really pulling the curtain back on any dark secrets of celebrity, but it does play into Lopez’s hopeless romantic persona within the confines of a PG-13 rating. Her Kat is a Lady Gaga-esque singer who has had some bad luck in the romance department, at least one divorce and one 48-hour marriage. She’s supposed to marry Bastian (played by Colombian pop star Maluma) live in front of 20 million people as they perform their hit single Marry Me, but right before she goes out on stage, draped in jewels, she (along with the rest of the world) sees a video of her intended cheating on her.

Still, she’s already got the dress and the venue, so she looks out in the audience, spots Owen Wilson’s Charlie, and picks him to marry. It is the most movie rom-com set up that’s ever existed, and this is a movie that wears its love for the genre on its sleeve with knowing references to everything from Pretty Woman to Notting Hill.

Jennifer Lopez and Maluma in a scene from ‘Marry Me’. PHOTO: AP