‘The Wedding Planner’

This film is your typical romantic comedy, but a few belly laughs, consistent chuckles and a heartwarming closure make it a pleasant diversion.   [PG-13]

By: Kam Williams

Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez star in the romantic comedy, "The Wedding Planner."

   Mary Fiore is San Francisco’s hottest wedding planner, helping every blushing bride prepare the perfect marriage. She’s in demand too much to even think about having a love life of her own, until a close brush with death rearranges her priorities. When a runaway dumpster almost runs her over, Mary falls, literally and figuratively, for Steve Edison, the handsome young doctor who knocks her out of the way. It doesn’t help when she discovers that he is the fiancé of Fran Donolly, the Internet tycoon who has just hired her to cater their wedding.
   That, in a nutshell, is the premise of a satisfying, soufflé-light offering from choreographer-turned-director Adam Shankman. Shankman, who has choreographed music videos for the likes of Whitney Houston, The B-52s and Barry White, makes his directoral debut with the film. It makes sense, then, that his first leading lady would be dancer-turned-singer/actress Jennifer "J-Lo" Lopez, who began her showbiz career as one of the Flygirls on Fox TV’s In Living Color.
   J-Lo, rumored to be on the outs with rapper/producer and long-time love Sean "Puffy" Combs, does a decent job in the title role as the workaholic Mary. Playing Steve and Fran, the couple whose wedding Mary ruins, are the suave Matthew McConaughey and the ever-unlikeable Bridgette Wilson-Sampras — newlywed wife of tennis star Pete Sampras — who has been typecast as insufferable characters in films such as Love Stinks, Beautiful and The Real Blonde.
   Forget the transparent plot and the archetypal love triangle. That story is as old as the hills in its San Francisco setting. What’s fun here are the colorful lesser characters who dot the cinemascape amid the myriad of weddings in this dance-heavy production.
   Tough-guy, character actor Alex Rocco, best known for taking a bullet in the eye in The Godfather, takes a comedic turn as Salvatore, Mary’s overprotective dad. Old World Sal further complicates a sticky situation by arranging his old maid daughter’s marriage to Massimo, a well-meaning hunk just off the boat from Italy. The endearing, puppy-dog Massimo, played by Calvin Klein model Justin Chambers, actually gets the honor-bound Mary to agree to a quickie City Hall nuptial.
   I know, it doesn’t make any sense. Why would a planner of lavish weddings allow her own marriage ceremony to be sprung on her by a complete stranger? Maybe her character is just desperate to get hitched. Who cares about the preposterous twist. It simply means that Mary and Steve must each abandon an intended to find truer love.
   Hyper-thyroid-eyed Judy Greer is probably the zaniest in the zoo as Penny, Mary’s Olive Oyl of an assistant. Scene-stealers Kathy Najimy and Fred Willard are funny as ever in quickie cameos. Other contributors include Kevin Pollak, Joanna Gleason and Charles Kimbrough.
   With a few belly laughs, consistent chuckles and a heartwarming closure, the film is a worthwhile time expenditure. Sure, it’s a typical romantic comedy that keeps the couple apart until the very end. A predictable, but pleasant diversion.
Rated PG-13 for adult language and passionate clinches.